5K rescuers descend on Turkey earthquake site; 25 dead, 100 rescued
Rescuers searched through eight collapsed buildings Saturday, pulling survivors from the rubble; 751 emergency vehicles and 20 sniffer dogs have been deployed
TURKEY — Rescuers pulled at least 100 survivors from the rubble in Izmir in western Turkey on Saturday, a day after a 6.6-magnitude earthquake that left at least 25 dead and more than 800 injured.
As many as 5,000 rescuers, joined by 20 sniffer dogs and 751 vehicles, continued efforts through the night in eight collapsed buildings, Environment and Urban Planning Minister Murat Kurum told reporters in Izmir on Saturday.
Several more are believed to be trapped, according to state broadcaster TRT. The latest rescue was of a 50-year-old woman 17 hours into the operation, it added.
"God willing, we will continue rescue efforts meticulously," Kurum added.
A total of 750 tents were set up and mobile kitchens served food to more than 50,000 people, Kurum said, urging locals to stay away from damaged buildings.
There have been 521 aftershocks reported following the quake in the Aegean coastal city of Izmir, according to the country's disaster authority AFAD.
The biggest was a 5.0-magnitude one on Saturday morning in Seferihisar district, where a small-scale tsunami had flooded streets on Friday, AFAD added.
Meanwhile, schools will be closed for a week in Izmir as part of security measures, Education Minister Ziya Selcuk wrote on Twitter.
TRT showed dramatic scenes in which a young woman, named Buse Hasyilmaz, became the national symbol of rescue efforts as she was freed after nearly 10 hours under the rubble of a seven-storey, 21-apartment building.
Speaking to rescuers on the phone from under the rubble, Hasyilmaz was heard making a witty suggestion: "I will make a cat noise so the sniffer dog can find me."
"Alright Buse, that is a very clever plan," Agriculture Minister Bekir Pakdemirli responded on the phone.
"Stay calm and hang on my love, they will get you soon," said her fiancee as he joined the conversation.
Onlookers applauded as the young woman was carried on a stretcher to an ambulance shortly afterwards.
On Saturday, at a separate rescue mission, TRT showed a father helping rescuers map out the apartment of a collapsed building under which a mother and her four children are trapped.
"Can you hear me? Tap three times if you can," a rescuer yelled through the narrow hole. Rescuers resumed working with drills after somebody responded from under the rubble, TRT said.
In another scene, a cat was rescued overnight. Looking healthy, she jumped on the rescuer's lap.
With a population of more than 4.3 million, Izmir is Turkey's third-largest city, after Istanbul and Ankara.
Turkey sits on major seismic fault lines. Two deadly quakes in the eastern cities of Elazig and Malatya in January killed more than 40 people.
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