Boy rescued after 108 hours under Turkey quake rubble

Rescuers Friday pulled a 12-year-old boy from the rubble of Turkey's earthquake after being trapped for 108 hours, as the death toll in the disaster rose to 576.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) meanwhile announced a multi-million euro appeal for help for quake victims, expressing concern about the wintry conditions they were facing.

Relatives mourn in front of a grave of a victim of the October 23 earthquake during a funeral ceremony in Ercis, province of Van, on October 28, 2011. Today, rescuers pulled a 12-year-old boy from the rubble of Turkey's earthquake after he had lain trapped more than 100 hours, as the death toll in the disaster rose to 573

The end of Ferhat Tokay's ordeal gave fresh hope to rescue crews who have been working round the clock in sub-zero temperatures, but concerns deepened about the plight of survivors.

Hopes of finding more people alive in the rubble had been fading fast before the rescue of 18-year-old Imdat Padak late Thursday, followed a few hours later by Ferhat.

Both were saved from the ruins of the worst-hit town of Ercis, where scores of buildings collapsed.

Television footage showed a rescue worker shading Ferhat's eyes as he was brought to the surface to protect him from the floodlights used by the emergency teams.

Both of the young survivors were rushed to a field hospital in Ercis and later airlifted by helicopter to nearby hospitals for further treatment, media reports said.

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said Friday emergency crews went on to work on nine different sites in Ercis either to help survivors or find bodies, Anatolia news agency reported.

According to the latest update from the government's emergency service, 187 people have been pulled out alive from the debris.

The unit said that a total of 2,608 people had been injured by the 7.2 magnitude quake which ripped through eastern Van province.

Engineers from Istanbul University said the earthquake had shown up often shoddy construction. Concrete mixed with too much sand taken from riverbeds had contributed to making housing units unstable.

The quake, Turkey's worst in years, also killed a lot of livestock, one of the region's main sources of income.

Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker said the government was distributing livestock to villagers who had lost animals rather than compensating them to ensure continued production, the NTV news channel reported.

Fresh snow and rain in Van province Friday ensured more misery for survivors camping out in tents fearing more building collapses in aftershocks, with some camps turned into mudbaths.

Atalay said all the urgent needs of quake survivors would be met by Saturday evening.

President Abdullah Gul said an official reception Saturday marking the 88th anniversary of the foundation of the Turkish republic had been cancelled because of the disaster.

Complaints have mounted over the speed of the rescue effort in the mainly Kurdish area.

On Friday, soldiers started to accompany aid trucks after locals and the Turkish Red Crescent complained that supplies had been looted.

With Islam's Eid al-Adha festival of sacrifice coming on November 6, the Turkish Red Crescent would distribute the meat of 500 cattle in the region, Anatolia reported.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Friday announced a preliminary appeal for more than 10 million Swiss francs ($11.4 million, 8.2 million euros) to help victims of the quake.

"Many people are still missing and thousands are homeless," it said in a statement.

"The freezing nights in the mountainous area surrounding the epicentre in Van province are a source of great concern...," it added.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has admitted to failings in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake but has since sent a quarter of his cabinet to oversee operations in Van.

Turkey has also dropped its earlier position of declining help from abroad.

Countries that have flown in aid include Israel and Armenia, with whom Turkey has had strained diplomatic ties.

"We are grateful for all this aid," foreign ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal told AFP. However, he added, the spirit of solidarity would not change Turkey's stance towards those countries.

Saudi Arabia pledged to donate $50 million (35 million euros) in aid to the quake victims, the kingdom's official SPA news agency reported.

And the Pentagon said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had ordered US military aircraft to begin delivering relief supplies to Turkey from its military bases in Europe.

AFP

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