Turkey Earthquake: Ankara Refuses Foreign Aid, As Death Toll Climbs

  on
Turkey Earthquake 2011
An earthquake of magnitude 7.2 struck the eastern city of Van in Turkey killing hundreds and injuring 350 on Sunday afternoon. The epicenterof the quake is reportedly located in the village of Tabanli in Van province bordering Iran.

The death toll from the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Turkey on Sunday has exceeded 270 people, but search-and-rescue teams are pulling more and more survivors out from under the rubble of crushed buildings and collapsed houses.

There are many people under the rubble, Mayor Veysel Keser, of the district of Celebibag, told NTV. People are in agony. We can hear their screams for help.

Rescue teams have been looking for any signs of life, and at times, whole neighborhoods were ordered silent so that workers could listen for anyone tapping or making noise beneath thousands of pounds of concrete.

On Monday, four people who had been trapped under a six-story building in Ercis were saved after a buried man named Yalcin Akay called police from his cell phone.

Rescuers worked all night, using floodlights to light debris.

We stayed outdoors all night, I could not sleep at all, my children, especially the little one, was terrified, Serpil Bilici told The Associated Press. I grabbed her and rushed out when the quake hit, we were all screaming.

The quake happened around 1:40 p.m. local time on Sunday. It was centered near the of Van, which lies near Turkey's eastern border with Iran. It was followed by over 100 aftershocks on Sunday, then another 100 on Monday, the highest registering a 6.0 magnitude on the Richter scale.

There are currently 2,300 emergency personnel working in Van and nearby Ercis, where 55 buildings collapsed, including 25 apartment buildings and a dormitory. Residents of the city spent the night outside, huddled around fires.

Israel, which has had a number of political disagreements with Turkey recently, offered aid and anything from food, medicine, medical staff and equipment to search-and-rescue teams, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, according to Reuters.

But Turkey refused aid from Israel and dozens of countries including Greece and Armenia, hoping that their domestic rescue efforts will be enough.

At this difficult time Israel is willing to provide any aid required anywhere in Turkey and at any time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Turkish President Abdullah Gül in a statement.

I am under the impression the Turks do not want our help, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Channel 2 News. Right now [their answer] is negative but if they see they need more aid and don't have it, or if they rethink it, we have made the offer and remain prepared [to help].

After a devastating earthquake in ?zmit, Turkey in 1999, which resulted in more than 17,000 deaths, Israel sent military rescue teams. The Israelis rescued 12 people -- including a 10-year-old Israeli girl -- and located 140 bodies.

Join the Discussion