|Efforts have continued to help homeless survivors who have been forced to sleep in the open in freezing cold [AFP]|
Rescue workers in Turkey have pulled a man alive from the rubble, more than four days after Sunday’s devastating earthquake in the east of the country.
A military rescue team from Azerbaijan reached 18-year-old Imdat Padak on Thursday after burrowing deep into the ruins of a collapsed apartment building in Ercis for more than two days, Turkey’s Anatolia news agency reported.
|Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught reports on
the challenges facing rescue efforts
Freed at last after more than 100 hours buried alive, Imdat was lifted onto a stretcher by medical workers who carried him through cheering crowds to a waiting ambulance, which whisked him away to hospital.
The death toll from Sunday’s 7.2-magnitude quake rose on Thursday to at least 534 people, while relief efforts continued to help homeless survivors who have been forced to sleep in the open in freezing cold due to shortage of tents and other relief materials.
The Disaster and Emergency Administration said 185 people had been rescued alive from collapsed buildings since the quake.
But officials have been criticised over their response to the crisis, with some accused of handing aid to supporters of the ruling AK Party in the mostly Kurdish region, while others said profiteers were hoarding tents and reselling them.
There have also been reports of aid lorries being looted in Ercis and Van, the worst affected towns.
“Everyone is getting sick and wet. We have been waiting in line for four days like this and still nothing. It gets to our turn and they say they have run out,” Fetih Zengin, an estate agent whose house was badly damaged in Ercis said.
“We slept under a piece of plastic erected on some wood boards we found. We have 10 children in our family, they are getting sick. Everyone needs a tent, snow is coming. It’s a disaster.”
|Cargo planes carrying humanitarian aid from Kazakhstan and Russia at Erzurum Airport [Reuters]|
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, acknowledged on Wednesday that the government had been slow to respond.
“We admit that we failed in the beginning, within the first 24 hours. We acknowledge flaws but these mistakes are pretty normal in such incidents,” he said.
But, the governor of Van province Munir Karaloglu, who is a federal government appointee, has rejected criticism of the relief efforts. He said the number of tents distributed would reach 28,000 by Thursday, adding that was far more than needed.
Meanwhile, international aid has started to reach the affected region after Turkey was forced to approached 30 countries, including Israel, for help.
The first batches of aid from France, Ukraine and Israel arrived overnight, bringing prefabricated housing and containers.
Theresa May, the British home secretary, who is in Turkey for a visit, said London would send 1,144 protective winter tents.
An spokeswoman for the UN’s UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Erzurum, a city 260km northwest of city of Ercis, would be a hub for international assistance sent by plane. Officials in Van, the provincial capital, have been asked to establish a centre for assistance coming overland.
Sunday’s quake was Turkey’s most powerful since a pair of earthquakes in 1999 in northwestern Turkey killed more than 20,000 people.