Turkey hunts for earthquake survivors as death toll hits 31

Turkey hunts for earthquake survivors as death toll hits 31
People gather inside a sports hall to spend the night following Friday's earthquake that destroyed their houses, in Elazig, eastern Turkey, late Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. More than 24 hours after a powerful earthquake hit eastern Turkey rescuers continued to pull survivors from under collapsed buildings Sunday. (Ugur Can/DHA via AP)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish rescue teams continued to pull survivors from collapsed buildings Sunday, more than a day and a half after a powerful earthquake hit the country’s east, killing at least 31 people, officials said.

The magnitude 6.8 quake injured 1,556 people, and 45 people had been pulled from the rubble so far, the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said.

As overnight temperatures dropped to -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit), emergency teams set up more than 9,500 tents for displaced residents and distributed some 17,000 hot meals.

Rescue teams concentrated their efforts in the Mustafa Pasa neighborhood of the city of Elazig and the nearby town of Sivrice, the closest residential area to the epicenter of Friday night’s quake.

Turkish television showed Ayse Yildiz, 35, and her 2-year-old daughter Yusra being saved from a collapsed apartment building in Mustafa Pasa district. They had been trapped for 28 hours after the earthquake struck.

Nearly 600 aftershocks rocked the region as rescue teams worked. A magnitude 4.3 quake hit Puturge district in the neighboring Malatya province on Sunday morning, AFAD said.

Friday’s main quake hit at 8:55 p.m. local time (1755 GMT). Earthquakes are frequent in Turkey, which sits atop two major fault lines. A pair of strong earthquakes struck northwest Turkey in 1999, killing around 18,000 people.