Turkey Earthquake: Death Toll Rises to 603, Blind Locksmith Found Under Rubble

Rescuers Struggle To Find Bodies Trapped Under The Quake That Crumbled Thousands Of Buildings

Three more bodies were pulled from the rubble left by Turkey’s devastating earthquake, upping the death toll to 603, on Friday.

The bodies belonged to 39-year old Ismail Akcila, a blind locksmith, and his two daughters, 8-year-old Dilber and 13-year-old Sumeyye.

Turkey’s prime minister reported 2,200 buildings have crumbled under the huge 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck eastern Turkey on Oct. 23.

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Rescuers and volunteers scramble to retrieve bodies trapped in the rubble while Turkey’s winter quickly impeded their progress. Snow and rain struck makeshift tented camps last week.

Those displaced from their homes feverishly prepared for the bad weather by fighting for tents and supplies for days after the quake. The earthquake 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,” said a disgruntled 18-year-old Suleyman Akbulut to Reuters.

Considering the chaos caused by the natural disaster, many rescue feats have been accomplished. On Oct. 26, rescuers carried 14-day-old Azra Karaduman from a seven story collapsed building in Ercis where she 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. Images show volunteers and rescue teams breaking down 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,” said Kursat Lap, a resident who lost his nephew’s family, to 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.

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