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39 Dead in Turkey, Greece Earthquake   10/31 13:26

   

   IZMIR, Turkey (AP) -- Three young children and their mother were rescued 
alive from the rubble of a collapsed building in western Turkey on Saturday, 
some 23 hours after a powerful earthquake in the Aegean Sea killed at least 39 
people and injured more than 800 others. One of the children died soon after 
being rescued, while a fourth child was still trapped.

   The Friday afternoon quake that struck Turkey's Aegean coast and north of 
the Greek island of Samos registered a magnitude that Turkish authorities put 
at 6.6 while other seismology institutes said it measured 6.9. It toppled 
buildings in Izmir, Turkey's third-largest city, and triggered a small tsunami 
in the Seferihisar district and on the Greek island. Hundreds of aftershocks 
followed.

   At least 37 people were killed in Izmir, Turkish President Recep Tayyip 
Erdogan said from a crisis coordination center before visiting the wrecked 
sites. Among them was an elderly woman who drowned in the tsunami. But rescue 
teams on Saturday made contact with 38-year old Seher Perincek and her four 
children --- ages 3, 7 and 10-year-old twins --- inside a fallen building in 
Izmir and cleared a corridor to bring them out.

   One by one, the mother and three of her children were removed from the 
rubble as rescuers applauded or hugged.

   The survivors, including 10-year-old Elzem Perincek, were moved into 
ambulances on stretchers.

   "I'm fine; I was rescued because only one of my feet was pinned. That foot 
really hurt," she said.

   The health minister as well as rescue worker Ahmet Yavuz told HaberTurk 
television hours later that one of the children had died after being rescued. 
They were still trying to reach the other child, Yavuz said.

   More than 5,500 rescuers from different agencies and cities worked together 
to reach survivors, at times hushing the crowds to listen into the rubble with 
sensitive headphones and crawling through the cracks. A 65-year-old man was 
saved 26 hours after the quake. Rescue work continued in nine buildings.

   Earlier Saturday, search-and-rescue teams lifted teenager Inci Okan out of 
the rubble of a devastated eight-floor apartment building. Her dog, Fistik, or 
Pistachio, was also rescued, Turkish media reported.

   A video showed a female rescuer trying to calm down the 16-year-old girl 
under the rubble as she inserted a catheter. "I'm so scared," the girl cried. 
"Can you hold my hand?"

   "We are going to get out of here soon," the rescuer, Edanur Dogan, said. 
"Your mother is waiting outside for you."

   Two other women, aged 53 and 35, were brought out from the rubble of another 
toppled two-story building earlier on Saturday.

   Some 103 people have been rescued since the earthquake, Erdogan said. It was 
unclear how many more people were trapped under buildings that were leveled.

   Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said 885 
people were injured in Izmir and three other provinces. The health minister 
said eight people were being treated in intensive care, with three of them in 
critical condition.

   Two teenagers were killed on the island Samos after being struck by a 
collapsing wall. At least 19 people were injured on the island, with two, 
including a 14-year-old, being airlifted to Athens and seven hospitalized on 
the island, health authorities said.

   The small tsunami that hit the Turkish coast also affected Samos, with 
seawater flooding streets in the main harbor town of Vathi.

   The earthquake, which the Istanbul-based Kandilli Institute said had a 
magnitude of 6.9, was centered in the Aegean northeast of Samos. AFAD said it 
measured 6.6. and hit at a depth of some 16 kilometers (10 miles).

   It was felt across the eastern Greek islands and as far as Athens and in 
Bulgaria. In Turkey, it shook the regions of Aegean and Marmara, including 
Istanbul.

   Turkey is crossed by fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. In 1999, two 
powerful quakes killed some 18,000 people in northwestern Turkey. Earthquakes 
are frequent in Greece as well.

   Authorities warned residents in Izmir not to return to damaged buildings, 
saying they could collapse in strong aftershocks. Many people spent the night 
out in the streets, too frightened to return to their homes, even if they 
sustained no damage.

   The country has suffered from lightly regulated and shoddy construction 
which can lead to serious damage and deaths from earthquakes. Referring to the 
structure where the teenager and her dog were rescued, architect Nihat Sen told 
Turkish broadcaster NTV: "All material used on the eight-story building was 
faulty. The ground was bad, the material was bad."

   Turkey's president said the government would aid victims who lost their 
homes with temporary housing and rent, while starting construction of new 
buildings.

   In a show of solidarity rare in recent months of tense bilateral relations, 
Greek and Turkish government officials issued mutual messages of solidarity, 
and the leaders of Greece and Turkey held a telephone conversation.

   "I thank President Erdogan for his positive response to my call," the Greek 
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Saturday before traveling to Samos, 
where he visited the families of the teenagers who were killed.

   Relations between Turkey and Greece have been particularly tense, with 
warships from both facing off in the eastern Mediterranean in a dispute over 
maritime boundaries and energy exploration rights. The ongoing tension has led 
to fears of open conflict between the two neighbors and nominal NATO allies.

   The quake occurred as Turkey was already struggling with an economic 
downturn and the coronavirus pandemic. So far, more than 10,000 people with the 
virus have died in Turkey. The health minister said authorities were 
distributing masks and disinfectant to protect against COVID-19.

 
 
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