People search through collapsed buildings in the village of Tabanli, near the city of Van, hoping to rescue those trapped under debris—victims of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck Turkey yesterday afternoon.
The Turkey earthquake, one of the most severe in the country since 1999, was centered just outside of the provincial capital of Van (map), near Turkey's border with Iran. The quake was followed by multiple aftershocks, including one that registered as a magnitude 6.0, according to CNN.
The disaster has so far seen a death toll of almost 300 people, and the number continues to climb. Tens of thousands of people are also homeless due to the quake, and rescue workers are setting up tents and providing supplies such as blankets and heaters to help people survive outside in the mountainous region's near freezing temperatures. (See aerial pictures of the aftermath of last year's Haiti earthquake.)
"It is a very urgent situation," Hakki Erskoy, a disaster manager for the Turkish Red Crescent, told the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper. "Right now, we are facing a race against time to provide shelter for people."
—By National Geographic Staff
Photograph by Abdurrahman Antakyali, Aatolia/AP
Waiting for Rescue
After yesterday's Turkeyearthquake, a young boy named Yunus waits to be rescued from under a collapsed building in the city of Ercis—on the north shore of Lake Van—early Monday. The hand of another, unseen victim rests on his shoulder.
Following the initial earthquake on Sunday, rescue teams began using heavy equipment such as diggers and cranes to remove big pieces of debris before going through the wreckage with picks, shovels, and even bare hands, the Guardian reported.
Rescuers worked through the night to find survivors. In many cases, workers found trapped people when the victims used their cell phones to call emergency lines, according to the Turkish Anatolia news agency.
Workers head toward a collapsed building in Ercis on Monday in continued efforts to save people trapped in debris following the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Turkey.
About 970 buildings in the region were demolished by the quake, according to CNN, including about 55 structures in Ercis.
The earthquake struck in eastern Turkey, reportedly one of the country's poorest areas. The death toll due to collapsed buildings is being blamed partly on the prevalence of mud-brick construction in the surrounding villages, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a press conference in Van, according to the Guardian.
Turkeyearthquake survivors stand in front of a collapsed building in Ercis on Sunday night.
In addition to those who lost their homes, many people in the affected region are reluctant to return to the buildings that are still standing, and relief groups are now working to accommodate thousands of people in tent cities and other makeshift shelters.
A spokesperson with the Turkish Red Crescent said that up to 13,000 tents—each big enough to hold four people—have been sent to the quake zone, and the aid agency is preparing to temporarily house as many as 40,000 survivors, Reuters reported.
Emergency workers lift a boy rescued from the debris in Ercis on Monday, the day after the Turkeyearthquake.
Offers of aid are coming in from around the world, but a spokesperson from the Turkish Foreign Ministry told CNN that, while its people are grateful, Turkey is prepared to handle the disaster on its own.