Turkey Earthquake: Death Toll Rises to 534 as Winter Cold Sets In

Rescuers Scurry to Save More As Snow Hits Ercis

As of Thursday morning, Turkey’s death toll has risen to 534 after a devastating earthquake struck the eastern side of the country Sunday afternoon.

Turkey’s prime minister reported 2,200 buildings have crumbled under the huge 7.2-magnitude earthquake, leaving 2,300 injured and 185 rescued.

Rescuers and volunteers scramble to save those trapped in the rubble while Turkey’s winter quickly impedes their progress – snow and rain struck makeshift tented camps Thursday.

On Wednesday, fighting for tents and supplies broke out as those displaced from their homes feverishly prepared for the bad weather. The earthquake has left thousands homeless.

Turkish citizens are attributing the disorganization to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

“There is absolutely no coordination, you have to step on people to get a tent. The Prime Minister should take care of his own people before going to Somalia and Libya,” a disgruntled 18-year-old Suleyman Akbulut told Reuters.

In light of the chaos caused by the natural disaster, many rescue feats have been accomplished. On Wednesday, Rescuers carried 14-day-old Azra Karaduman from a seven story collapsed building in Ercis where she had spent 46 hours under the rubble.

The infant’s mother and grandmother were also rescued shortly after.

Ercis, with a population of 75,000, is categorized as one of Turkey’s most earthquake-prone zones. The cities of Ercis and Van were hit the hardest.

“Turkey is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because it sits on major geological fault lines,” reported BBC News.

Since December 1939, 14 major earthquakes have rocked the country.

Photos show volunteers and rescue teams breaking down the large amounts of rubble crushing the city; some volunteers used shovels and even their bare hands to reach those trapped under the destruction.

More than 100 aftershocks were recorded within 10 hours of the initial earthquake.

“May God protect us from this kind of grief,” resident Kursat Lap, who lost his nephew’s family, told The Associated Press.

Many of those trapped in the rubble used their cellular phones to call for help and notify rescuers of their location. Others, once freed, helped free their friends by determining where they would have been when the quake struck.

Some were pulled free after lying under rubble for 24 hours; video footage shows volunteers carrying a rescued toddler from the rubble as well.

This is the most detrimental earthquake to hit Turkey in 10 years.