VAN, Turkey – Rescuers today recovered the body of a second journalist missing underneath the rubble of an earthquake-shattered hotel as the death toll in the second earthquake to hit eastern Turkey in about two weeks rose to at least 26.
Colleagues and friends wept as rescue workers pulled out the body of Sebahattin Yilmaz from beneath the debris of the Bayram Hotel – one of two hotels that fell apart when the 5.7-magnitude quake hit the eastern city of Van late Wednesday. The body of Yilmaz’s colleague, Cem Emir, was pulled out of the rubble five hours earlier. Both were reporters for the Dogan news agency and were covering the aftermath of an earlier, more powerful earthquake.
“In our profession we always come across disasters,” Dogan agency’s general manager, Ugur Cebeci, told the Associated Press earlier as he watched rescuers in red overalls search through the debris of the hotel. “But we are grappling with helplessness here.”
Emir, 26, worked at Dogan’s office in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast, the agency said. Yilmaz, 52, was based in Van and was working with Emir at the Bayram Hotel when the temblor occurred.
Relief workers – who had arrived in the city to help survivors of the earlier earthquake that hit the region on Oct. 23 – also became victims when the two hotels collapsed, weakened by the earlier temblor. The fatalities included a Japanese relief worker who had come to distribute aid to quake survivors and eight employees of a company who were in Van to assemble temporary housing units for survivors.
Rescuers pulled out 14 bodies from the wreckage on Friday, raising the death toll to 26, according to state-run TRT television.