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Turkey quake: Search continues for survivors

October 24, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Rescuers continued combing through crumbled buildings in Turkey in search of people buried in a devastating earthquake that killed at least 279 people and wounded more than 1,300 others.

Five survivors were pulled alive from the rubble Monday after the 7.2-magnitude quake leveled buildings in eastern Turkey on Sunday.

Four of the survivors were rescued when one of them managed to call for help on his cellphone.

Hundreds of buildings in two cities and mud-brick homes in nearby villages pancaked or partially collapsed and dozens of people were trapped in mounds of concrete, twisted steel and construction debris.

The worst hit city was Ercis - a city of 75,000 close to the Iranian border - where about 80 multistory buildings collapsed.

Aid groups scrambled to set up tents, field hospitals and kitchens to help the thousands left homeless or those too afraid to re-enter their homes.

Over 100 aftershocks rocked the area Monday morning, with three of them reaching 4.7 magnitude.

The center of Sunday's massive earthquake was just 12.4 miles below the surface, which was shallow enough to cause widespread devastation. Scientists said the ground could continue shaking for days.

Turkey lies in one of the world's most active seismic zones and is crossed by numerous fault lines. In 1999, two earthquakes with a magnitude of more than 7 struck northwestern Turkey, killing about 18,000 people.

Istanbul, the country's largest city with more than 12 million people, lies in northwestern Turkey near a major fault line, and experts say tens of thousands could be killed if a major quake struck there due to overcrowding and shoddy construction.

See photos of destruction and rescue efforts in Turkey following the powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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