Following a major earthquake in eastern Turkey on Sunday afternoon, the death toll in the region continues to rise. On Monday, the total number dead stood at almost 300 and that number is expected to continue going up even though rescue workers have pulled survivors from wreckage.
According to a Reuters report, four survivors in Ercis were rescued after one of them was able to call for help on his cell phone. The website Earthquake-report.com also reported that three women were rescued from a six-story collapsed building in Ercis.
Ercis was hit hardest by the quake which had an epicenter roughly equidistance between Ercis and Van, along Lake Van in eastern Turkey, close to the Iranian border. Ercis has a population of just over 75,000 in the urban area with approximately 65,000 living in the surrounding rural region. The city of Van has an official population of just over 350,000 but the actual population could be as high as 600,000. Footage of damage in Ercis can be seen on a video posted on YouTube and shows jammed traffic and collapsed buildings next to intact structures.
The death toll may number in the hundreds as rescue efforts continue. According to news reports, Mustafa Erdik, head of the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute out of Istanbul, gave an estimated number of between 500 and 1,000 killed in this quake.
Several countries have offered to help with relief and rescue efforts, despite strained relations. Israel and Greece, both countries that do not have the best relationship with Turkey, have offered assistance. Other nearby nations such as Armenia, Iran, Bulgaria and Azerbijan offered help but Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused help, saying that Turkey could handle the crisis at this time. Iran, Bulgaria and Azerbijan send assistance despite Erdogan’s refusal.
Well over 100 aftershocks have rattled the area, at least one as large as 6.0 in magnitude. Authorities have reported that most homes and structures built of mud and bricks in surrounding villages have collapsed due to the quake. Neighboring areas of Iran and Armenia also felt Sunday’s earthquake.
As aftershocks continue and rescue workers search for more survivors, the world watches and prays for the people of Turkey.