Turkey Earthquake Death Toll Nears 600, Recovery Begins
Turkey has ended efforts to rescue victims of last week's 7.2-magnitude earthquake and has begun to focus efforts on helping the homeless.
The official death toll thus far reached 596 on Sunday, one day after officials formally ended the search in the Van province for survivors of the October 23 earthquake.
More than 41,150 people were injured in the quake that shook the region, located near the Iranian border, according to a statement on the website of the prime minister's emergency unit.
Some sporadic rescue efforts continued in the city of Ercis, hardest hit by the earthquake. Some 231 people have been extricated alive from under the rubble, according to Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay.
The last person to be rescued alive was a 12-year-old boy, who was pulled out in Ercis on Friday morning after spending 108 hours trapped under the ruins of a building.
Between the rain and snow and sub-freezing temperatures, tens of thousands of people are desperate for shelter. There are still not enough tents to be had, despite the assistance provided by Turkey's neighbors, including Israel – which sent seven mobile prefab homes at Ankara's request.
Jerusalem was willing to send other assistance as well, but not unless it was requested. “Recovery efforts must be properly coordinated, and the Turkish government will tell us what it needs, if it needs more from us,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told Arutz Sheva last week.
There has been much rain in the province of Van, where the earthquake was followed by dozens of aftershocks, some measuring as strong as 5.4 on the Richter scale.
Ercis was struck by another such temblor again Sunday morning, a 5.3-magnitude quake that sent the city's 100,000 residents scrambling once more for whatever cover was left in the devastated area.
Those who are most at risk – the young and the elderly – are having the hardest time with the difficult weather, even in the tent emcampments set up at the outskirts of the city established by relief organizations.
The few shops that are left reopened Sunday, with electricity reconnected in a few scattered parts of the city, and one bank's ATM finally working as well. But even with money, there is little to buy, and access to the disaster zone is still extremely limited.