The Turkish Red Crescent is working to reach people trapped in rubble following the 7.2 earthquake that hit Van province near the Iranian border in eastern Turkey on Sunday. At least 80 people are confirmed dead but there are fears that this number may increase significantly.
At 7.2 on the Richter scale, this quake is the most powerful earthquake to hit Turkey in over a decade, and equal to the one that struck Haiti early in 2010.
Witnesses say local people, working by torchlight in freezing conditions, are using their bare hands to shift the rubble in a desperate attempt to reach survivors overnight.
Turkish Red Crescent workers and volunteers have already rescued an unconfirmed number of survivors from the rubble of a student dormitory which collapsed in the city of Ercis which has a population of 75,000 and is close to the Iranian border. Turkish Red Crescent rescue workers in Ercis say at least 25 buildings containing flats, including the one housing the dormitory, collapsed in the quake.
Red Crescent offices in Ankara, Erzurum, Mus, Adana, Diyarbakir, and Manisa have sent teams of disaster responders and supplies to the affected region. Over 2,000 tents, 7,500 blankets, 100 stoves, bread, water and food parcels are on the way to the site of the disaster and many more stocks are being organised for distribution.
Soup kitchens have been set up for those who have lost their homes or are unwilling to renter them, fearing aftershocks. The blankets and tents will be particularly critical as temperatures fall to close to freezing overnight. Electricity and telephone lines are also down in a number of areas of the remote Van province. A tent city is being set up in the stadium in Ercis.