Two more missing after Turkey quake kills 39

Environment

A rescue worker searches at the site of a collapsed building, after an earthquake in Elazig, Turkey, January 27, 2020. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

ELAZIG, Turkey (Reuters) – The death toll rose to 39 from the earthquake that struck eastern Turkey on Friday, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Monday, as rescue teams continued the search for two others who remained under a collapsed building.

The magnitude 6.8 quake caused 35 deaths in Elazig province and four in neighboring Malatya. More than 1,600 others were hurt, including 86 still being treated in hospitals, though none were in serious condition, the government said.

The two remaining people were under the remains of a building in Elazig, about 550 km (340 miles) east of Ankara. Forty-five people had been rescued from under the rubble so far in the search, which was winding down on Sunday evening.

Authorities have warned residents not to enter damaged buildings because of the danger of collapse and further aftershocks, leaving many without a home in a region where temperatures fell to -6 C (21.2°F) on Monday morning.

Addressing reporters in Elazig, Soylu updated the death toll and said the government would provide financial support to those whose homes were damaged. Some 1,000 temporary homes would be built, and some schools and mosques were now being used as shelters, he added.

Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum said authorities had started demolishing 22 damaged buildings in Elazig. Construction of some 2,000 new houses in the province is expected to be completed by year end, he added.

Turkey has a history of powerful earthquakes. More than 17,000 people were killed in August 1999 when a 7.6 magnitude quake struck Izmit, a city southeast of Istanbul. In 2011, a quake in the eastern city of Van killed more than 500.

Reporting by Umit Bektas; Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Jonathan Spicer

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