The confirmed death toll in the earthquake in eastern Turkey rose past 200 Monday morning, and thousands are missing, many trapped under the debris of shattered buildings, and feared lost.
Rescue teams were working through Sunday night to pull out the survivors trapped under rubble but the rescue efforts were hindered by power outages. The government has provided floodlights powered by mobile generators. Relatives and other survivors are also pitching in with shovels and torches.
Worst hit by the 7.2-magnitude quake were the cities of Van and Ercis, Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin said.
Earlier, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reported at least 93 dead in Van and 45 in Ercis, and about 350 injured. The death toll could rise, he cautioned. He feared the worst for people in remote villages still not reached by rescuers.
Erdogan, in a televised news conference in Van, cited the vulnerabilities of the houses, which are made up of adobe or mud bricks as the the major reason for this calamity.
Because the buildings are made of adobe they are more vulnerable to quakes. I must say that almost all buildings in such villages are destroyed, Erdogan said.
We don't know how many people are in the ruins of collapsed buildings. It would be wrong to give a number.
Turkey has already mobilized more than 1,500 search and rescue teams from 38 cities. Six battalions of military are also involved in search and rescue efforts.
Ambulances and medical equipment were flown in by C-130 military cargo planes to the quake-affected areas to provide medicine, tents and food to the victims.
We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Turkish ally in this difficult time, and are ready to assist, U.S. President Barack Obama said.