An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 occurred Sunday in eastern Turkey on its border with Iraq in Tabanli village near the eastern Turkish city of Van.
The search for survivors continues with hundreds of rescuers removing debris in the predominantly poor province.
Even as rescuers worked, residents slept in the streets while high magnitude aftershocks, some with a force of 6.0 on the Richter scale, continued to rock this poor Turkish region.
Some 2,400 workers were pulling survivors and bodies out from collapsed buildings as temperatures dipped into the single digits.
Rescuers dug through the rubble and removed debris while searching for victims using special equipment, and some with bare, bleeding hands.
At one collapsed building in Ercis, firemen from the city of Diyarbakir, tried to reach four missing children, Reuters reported. “Aid workers carried two black body bags, one apparently containing a child, to an ambulance. An old woman wrapped in a headscarf walked alongside sobbing.”
Many villages which may have been badly affected were unable to be reached, according to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.
“Because the buildings are made of mud brick, they are more vulnerable to quakes,” he said. “I must say that almost all buildings in such villages are destroyed,” he said.
Building regulations are not closely enforced in Turkey even though it sits on major geological fault lines.In 1999, an earthquake killed about 18,000 people. Yet, building regulations are often neglected in the country.