As dazed survivors began staggering away from the town of Lice, devastated in the earthquake which effected part of Eastern Turkey on Saturday (6 September), the official estimates of the number of people who had been killed by the disaster rose to seventeen hundred.
As dazed survivors began staggering away from the town of Lice, devastated in the earthquake which effected part of Eastern Turkey on Saturday (6 September), the official estimates of the number of people who had been killed by the disaster rose to seventeen hundred. Some of the residents of Lice, a small town near the provincial capital of Diyarbakir, remained behind and pathetically picked their way through the earthquake rubble in search of belongings.
As officials pressed on with relief efforts their fears grew that the death toll would rise even higher. A small town of emergency tents sprang up overnight as a temporary refuge for survivors. Relief squads ferried out injured people to hospitals in the disaster area that were already overflowing.
Other survivors, drained of facial expression after the shock of the disaster, left behind a few relatives to guard the pitiful piles of salvaged possessions. The earthquake also sparked off a firestorm in Lice, and brought rocks crashing down from a ridge overlooking the town.
By Sunday (7 September) the area, 900 km (560 miles) east of Ankara, was swarming with soldiers, digging through the rubble, while engineers continued to work on restoring the telephone lines. Makeshift nurseries were established to care for children, and special water tanks were airlifted in from Ankara, along with mobile sanitation units.
The earthquake registered 6.8 on the open-ended Richter Scale, and was centred on Lice, where at least 500 people died. The landslides were feared to have flattened three villages north of the main disaster zone.
An early report said that those killed in the earthquake included 50 people who were at noon prayers when a mosque collapsed. A newspaper report said that the tremors from the earthquake were felt in a wide area of eastern Turkey, stretching from the Black Sea in the North to the Iraqi border in the south.