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Rescue efforts near end as Turkey quake toll rises

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Rescue teams carried out final searches for survivors on Sunday Efforts to find survivors from a powerful earthquake in eastern Turkey have begun winding down as the death toll climbed to at least 35.The magnitude-6.8 quake shook Turkey’s Elazig province late on Friday, causing buildings to collapse.Some 45 people…

Rescue workers work at the scene of a collapsed building on 26 January 2020 in Elazig, Turkey.Image copyright
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Rescue teams carried out final searches for survivors on Sunday

Efforts to find survivors from a powerful earthquake in eastern Turkey have begun winding down as the death toll climbed to at least 35.

The magnitude-6.8 quake shook Turkey’s Elazig province late on Friday, causing buildings to collapse.

Some 45 people have been pulled alive from the rubble so far.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the rescue operation was largely concluded, but teams had located six people still trapped under rubble.

“It has been around 36 hours [since the quake], but we are still in the hours where we can hope,” he told a news conference on Sunday.

More than 1,600 people were injured in the earthquake, with 104 still in hospital, officials said.

Turkey, which sits atop two major fault lines, has a history of powerful earthquakes. In 1999, about 17,000 people died in a quake in the western city of Izmit.

Friday’s quake struck at about 20:55 local time (17:55 GMT), centring on the town of Sivrice in Elazig province.

More than 700 aftershocks have been registered so far, and Mr Soylu warned on Sunday that they were continuing.

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Media captionRescue teams rushed to help after the earthquake struck

Rescue teams worked through the night on Friday and Saturday in freezing temperatures, using their hands, drills and diggers to try to find people in the rubble of fallen buildings. They also brought beds and tents for those displaced.

Turksish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised that steel-framed houses will be built for those who have lost their homes.

“Turkey has begun to heal the wounds of this great disaster in unity, togetherness and coming together,” he said.

Among those rescued was a woman who called her relatives from her mobile phone to tell them where she was trapped.

Turkish television also showed a 35-year-old woman and her two-year-old daughter being pulled out of the rubble some 28 hours after the quake.

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