Turkey Earthquake Kills 239, Rescue Efforts Ongoing

An earthquake in Turkey has killed 239 people and left 1,300 injured, according to Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay.

The 7.2 magnitude quake, which hit the Turkish city of Van on Sunday, has also left tens of thousands sleeping outside in freezing conditions.

Rescue teams are now searching for those trapped beneath the rubble, with local mayor Veysel Keser telling the BBC, “There are many people under the rubble. We can hear their screams for help. We need urgent help.”

Ambulances, soldiers and rescue teams have all rushed to the town, with many rescuers working through the night by torchlight, using hands and shovels to dig through collapsed buildings.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has flown to the city by helicopter. He thanked other countries for their offers of help, but insisted Turkey would be able to cope with the disaster.

Mr. Erdogan reported villages north of Van have also been affected, particularly those with a preponderance of clay brick buildings.

Hakki Erskoy, from the Turkish Red Crescent, said camps were being set up to shelter people, and that food and water were being sent to the disaster site, along with mobile kitchens.

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The US Geological Survey revealed the quake struck at 13:41 local time (05:41 EST) at a depth of 20km (12 miles). The epicentre was recorded as being 16km north-east of Van in eastern Turkey.

Turkey is prone to earthquakes because of its position in one of the world’s most active seismic zones. A pair of earthquakes in 1999 killed close to 20,000 people in the north-west region of the country.

Here’s an Associated Press report on the disaster: