Turkey ends rescue efforts after earthquake toll reaches 41

Turkey has formally called off rescue operations as emergency teams recovered the body of the last quake victim, raising the death toll from the 6.8-magnitude tremor to 41. Interior Minister Soylu said 2,000 temporary houses will be built in 15 days, while Urbanization Minister Kurum said authorities have started demolishing damaged buildings.

Duvar English

Turkey called off rescue operations on Jan. 27 in eastern areas hit by the 6.8-magnitude earthquake after emergency workers recovered the body of a final person they were searching for in a collapsed building, bringing the death toll to 41, authorities said.

The powerful quake shook the Elazığ province late on Jan. 24. Tremors were also felt in neighboring countries including Syria and Georgia.

The quake caused 37 deaths in Elazığ, about 550 km east of the capital Ankara, and four in neighboring Malatya. Some 1,607 others were hurt, 1,516 of whom were already released from the hospitals, Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Authority (AFAD) said. Forty-five people had been rescued from under ruined buildings, AFAD added.

The initial quake, centered at the Sivrice province of Elazığ, was followed by a total 948 aftershocks and 21 of those were above 4.0-magnitude.

Supplies sent to the area

AFAD has reportedly shipped 24,402 tents, 26,501 beds and 62,963 blankets, but a surprisingly low 3,651 heaters. The frigid weather is the biggest challenge faced by the survivors who have to spend nights outside.

Some 34,000 hot meals, over 13,000 breakfast packages and 7,000 servings of soup have been distributed to those affected by the quake, AFAD said.

AFAD's fundraising campaign for Elazığ and Malatya has raised a reported 60 million Turkish Liras ($10 million).

Some 2,945 buildings in the two provinces have been damaged: 12 to be demolished immediately and 1,287 beyond repair.

The AFAD General Directorate has also transferred 3 million Liras ($500,000) each to both the Elazığ Governor's Office and the Malatya Governor's Office to be used as needed.

2,000 temporary homes to be built in 15 days

Addressing reporters in Elazığ, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said the government would provide financial support to those whose homes were damaged. Some 2,000 temporary homes would be built in 15 days, and some schools and mosques were now being used as shelters, he added.

Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum said authorities had started demolishing damaged buildings in Elazığ. Construction of some 2,000 new houses in the province was expected to be completed by year end, he added.

Turkey has a history of powerful earthquakes. More than 17,000 people were killed in August 1999 when a 7.6 magnitude quake struck İzmit, a city southeast of Istanbul. In 2011, a quake in the eastern province of Van killed more than 500.