Rescuers dig for survivors after Turkey quake kills at least 29

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Elazig (Reuters) – Rescuers searched on Saturday for survivors trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings after a powerful earthquake hit eastern Turkey late on Friday, killing 29 people and injuring more than 1,400.

Turkish broadcasters showed footage of rescuers pulling people out from under the debris, some around 21 hours after the quake.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said an estimated 22 people were still trapped. Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Authority (AFAD) said later that 43 people had been rescued so far.

The magnitude 6.8 quake shook Elazig province, about 550 km (340 miles) east of the capital Ankara, shortly before 9 p.m. (1800 GMT), and was followed by 462 aftershocks, according to AFAD.

Rescue teams worked through the night with their hands, drills and mechanical diggers to remove bricks and plaster from collapsed buildings in Elazig, where the overnight temperature dipped to -8 degrees Celsius (17.6°Fahrenheit). Similar cold was expected on Saturday night.

“Our houses collapsed … we cannot go inside them,” said a 32-year-old man from the town of Sivrice, epicenter of the quake.

“In our village some people lost their lives. I hope God will help us,” said the man, who gave only his first name, Sinasi. “Our animals died. Our families gathered around the fire to spend the night, covered with blankets,” Sinasi said as he and a relative tried to warm themselves by a small fire.

Twenty-five people were killed in Elazig and four more in the neighboring province of Malatya, AFAD said, adding 1,466 others were injured.

Health Minster Fahrettin Koca said 128 injured people were receiving treatment and that 34 of those were in intensive care, but not in critical condition.