Cries for help rose from collapsed buildings Monday as rescuers searched in a heavy downpour for survivors of an earthquake that toppled nearly half the buildings in this Turkish city.
Authorities raised the death toll from Sunday’s quake to 71, and dozens more were feared trapped. About 200 people were injured in the magnitude 6 quake, said Mustafa Secen, the city’s health director.
“God, please save my children! Please, God!” Necati Ozturk implored, his arms stretched skyward as an excavator dug in the ruins of his house.
Searchers then pulled out the bodies of his son and 3-year-old grandson. His two daughters-in-law and five neighbors were still buried in the rubble of the collapsed three-story building.
Nearly 45 percent of Dinar’s buildings were destroyed and wide cracks criss-crossed most of the remaining structures in the city of 100,000 people 200 miles southwest of Ankara.
Heavy rain and power outages hampered rescue efforts, and 43 aftershocks rattled the town throughout the day. One, with a magnitude of 3.9, hit at 9:55 p.m., according to Kandilli observatory.
Some residents criticized the rescue effort. Thirty people were rescued Monday.
“There are two people in that building,” Zubeyde Sezen said, pointing to her neighbor’s house. “They needed to lift the ceiling up, but they only had excavators. Those brought the whole building down. Now it is impossible to get to them.”
Public Works minister Halil Culhaoglu said about 4,000 buildings - about half the town - collapsed. The quake damaged 18 nearby villages, said Interior Minister Nahit Mentese, who estimated damage at about $200 million.