Rescuers race against time in search for Turkey quake survivors

The death toll from western Turkey's worst recorded earthquake surpassed 6,000 Thursday as rescuers raced against time in their attempts to find survivors under the mountains of rubble.

This content was published on August 19, 1999 - 17:45

The death toll from western Turkey's worst recorded earthquake surpassed 6,000 Thursday as rescuers raced against time in their attempts to find survivors under the mountains of rubble.

Fresh rescue teams arrived from abroad to continue searching for the missing. Many wore scarves over their nose and mouth as a barrier against the growing stench of decaying flesh.

By Thursday, the official death toll from Tuesday’s quake rose to over 6,000, with more than 27,000 reported injured.

People pleaded for rescuers to try to find loved ones in towers of rubble that had once been apartment buildings. Many of them were poorly constructed structures that housed the poor who flocked to cities for jobs created by economic growth over the last three decades.

But there were some glimmers of hope.

Two women who had been trapped under the rubble of their five-story apartment building for 44 hours were rescued alive in Bolu, about 260 kilometers (160 miles) east of Istanbul. A British team was working early Thursday to extract two other people believed to still be alive under the debris.

Swiss rescue teams said they succeeded in saving the lives of 11 quake victims. For many, though, the rescue efforts came too late.

The Swiss authorities planned to fly emergency aid to Turkey on Saturday, including tents, blankets and medical supplies.

Shock over the enormous scale of the tragedy was turning to anger for countless Turks who spent a second night camped in yards, parks, even on highway medians because they feared going home -- or had none to return to.
Dwindling food supplies on top of crippled power and water lines in some areas added to the mood of desperation. Crowds mobbed a convoy of bread trucks that entered Izmit, one of the hardest hit cities, on Wednesday.

An inferno at the seaside Tupras oil refinery – triggered by the tremor -- was still raging Thursday, churning out enormous plumes of dark smoke that gave even sunny skies a twilight pallor.


From staff and wire reports.



This article was automatically imported from our old content management system. If you see any display errors, please let us know: community-feedback@swissinfo.ch

Share this story