Relief difficult in Turkeyafter earthquake strikes

Relief efforts continued in Turkey after last week's earthquake.

BY MARIE DUPUIS | BINGOL, TURKEY | May 2, 2003


Relief efforts continued in Turkey after last week's earthquake.

The province of Bingol was hard hit by the quake, which many say is the most serious to hit the country since a massive 1999 quake killed more than 17,000 people.

Bingol is a rural and remote area difficult for rescue and relief groups to access, according to Action by Churches Together (ACT), a global coalition of faith-based relief and response agencies.

Local ACT representatives were monitoring the situation and determining what response would be needed.

According to the local seismological center, the epicenter of the 6.4-magnitude quake was in the Diyarbakir region.

After last week's quake, scores of children were killed or trapped inside a collapsed four-story boarding school dormitory, even while others were successfully rescued.

"I fell in a hole between my bed and the wall. That is how I survived," said 14-year- old Ersin Besbelli, a few moments after being pulled out from underneath the rubble.

"I only hope that my friends are still alive," he added. Seven of his roommates were still trapped in the remains of what used to be their room.

"While I was being pulled upwards, my friends were begging me to help them. They are still inside. Rescue them, please," cried 12-year-old Veysel Dagdeviren, who suffered a broken arm.

"Suddenly, I saw the roof tumble down almost on top of me. There was very little space. The guardian of the school used broken pieces of the staircase to pull me out," added another schoolboy, Mustafa Gunal.

In the aftermath, the head of the medical team in Bingol affirmed that his hospital is overflowing with wounded, who are being tended to in the hospital gardens, due to fear of the aftershocks.

Hundreds of aftershocks have occurred since the quake, which lasted about 20 seconds.

Communications, electricity and telephone lines have been cut.

Numerous active faultlines crisscross Turkey.


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