Up To 1000 Feared Dead In Turkey Earthquake
Turkish rescue workers continued to battle near-freezing temperatures and darkness in their search for survivors, as official death figures tallied 138 deaths and 350 injuries from Sunday's quake.
However, Mustafa Erdik, the general manager of Kandilli Observator in Turkey, said he estimated hundreds of lives had been lost.
"It could be 500 or 1,000," he told Reuters.
The 7.2 magnitude quake is the largest in Turkey since 1999.
Reporters on the ground confirmed Erdik's estimates.
"The death toll is rising. Rescue teams are taking out dead bodies all the time," said Osman Orsal, a Reuters photographer in Ercis.
Roughly 20 aftershocks rattled the region, one of the nation's poorest. The largest had a magnitude of 6.0.
Ninety-three people were killed in Van, while 45 were killed in Ercis, said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, adding that those numbers are expected to rise.
The prime minister said 55 buildings collapsed in Ercis on the north shore of Lake Van, while the Turkish Red Crescent had said earlier that some 25 apartment buildings and a student dormitory collapsed in the town.
Local rescuers took many wounded people out of the dormitory, the Red Crescent statement said, without saying exactly how many.
Both the U.S. President and Secretary of State offered condolences and assistance to Turkey.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the brave men and women who are working to bring assistance to this stricken region," Barack Obama said in a statement.
"We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Turkish ally at this difficult time, and are ready to assist the Turkish authorities," said Hillary Clinton in a similar statement.
Best way to find more great content from Neon Tommy?
Or join our email list below to enjoy Neon Tommy News Alerts.