Turkey quake death toll approaches 300

Turkey
REPORTING FROM BEIRUT -- The death toll from the earthquake that struck southeastern Turkey has risen to at least 260 people, with more than 1,000 injured, according to news agency accounts Monday from the stricken region.

Casualty numbers were expected to rise as rescue workers searched for bodies in dozens of buildings that collapsed after the powerful temblor struck Sunday afternoon in the province of Van, bordering Iran. The quake -- variously described as magnitude 7.3 or 7.2 -- also shook parts of neighboring Iran and Armenia.

Survivors were still being pulled from the rubble Monday, according to Turkey's semi-official Anatolia news agency. Hardest hit were the cities of Ercis and Van, where television images showed scenes of flattened buildings and searchers combing through the debris. Almost 1,000 buildings were destroyed in the quake, Anatolia reported.

Photos: Powerful quake strikes Turkey

Aid agencies worked to set up tents and food distribution centers for thousands of homeless, both those who lost their homes and others of fearful of returning to their dwellings. Condolences and offers of aid pour in from across the globe.

Aftershocks rocked the earthquake-prone region Monday as high-ranking Turkish officials fanned out to survey the damage. They included Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who told reporters that many rural, mud-brick homes had also collapsed in the countryside.

The affected region has a heavy ethnic Kurdish population. The Turkish government has recently launched a massive crackdown on Kurdish militants who have attacked military and other targets inside Turkey.

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-- Patrick J. McDonnell

Photo: Rescue workers carry Hilal Altinkaplan (16), a survivor from a collapsed building in the city of Ercis, Van province. Credit: Tolga Bozoglu / EPA.

 
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