ANKARA: Working against the clock in freezing temperatures, Turkish rescue teams pulled more survivors from collapsed buildings on Sunday, days after a powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit the country’s east.
Authorities said the death toll rose to at least 36 people.
Turkish television showed Ayse Yildiz, 35, and her 2-year-old daughter Yusra being dragged out of the rubble of a collapsed apartment building in the city of Elazig. They had been trapped for 28 hours after the earthquake struck on Friday night.
The magnitude 6.8 quake also injured over 1,600 people but 45 survivors have been pulled alive from the rubble so far, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a news conference Sunday in Istanbul.
More than 700 aftershocks rocked the region as over 3,500 rescue experts scrambled through wrecked buildings to reach survivors, working around the clock. Rescue teams concentrated efforts in the city’s Mustafa Pasa neighborhood and the nearby town of Sivrice.
One rescued couple was reunited with a Syrian student who had helped to dig them out of their home with his hands. “He is our hero and angel,” Dudane Aydin said of Mahmud Al-Osman.
As overnight temperatures dropped to -5 degrees Celsius, emergency teams set up more than 9,500 tents for displaced residents and distributed 17,000 hot meals.
The Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency said 20 of the aftershocks measured magnitude 4.0 or above, including a magnitude 4.3 quake that hit the neighboring province of Malatya on Sunday morning.
The agency said 76 buildings were destroyed and more than 1,000 were damaged by the quake.