Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

6,000 Reported Dead in Turkey Earthquake




ISTANBUL, Turkey -- The official death toll from western Turkey's worst recorded earthquake surpassed 6,000 Thursday and hope waned for finding many of the thousands still missing alive under the mountains of rubble.


Turkey's private Channel 6 reported that the death toll reached 7,000, but gave no details as to the source of its count. The discrepancy could be due to the large number of people still missing.


Amid the bleak news, there was some heartening word: a refinery blaze, set off by the quake in Izmit near the epicenter, was brought under control.


The Anatolia news agency reported that in the hard-hit Izmit and Golcuk areas some 3,000 people were killed in the earthquake, an increase of 1,000 from the earlier official count. The agency later reported that the death toll in the town of Yalova rose from 350 to 1,311. The increases raise the official death toll to some 6,300.


Fresh rescue teams arrived from abroad overnight to continue searching for the missing. Many wore scarves over their noses and mouths as a barrier against the growing stench of decaying flesh.


An Austrian team moved from building to building in Izmit, searching for survivors with sniffer dogs.


They found no one and said they feared that most of those trapped in the wreckage may have perished due to a lack of water.


Golcuk mayor Ismail Baris estimated as many as 10,000 were still trapped under collapsed rubble in his navy base town alone, more than 48 hours after Tuesday's quake.


A 60-member French military rescue team worked in Yalova on Thursday trying to pull 16-year-old Elmas Kizilkaya from the rubble of a building.


"She has her ankle trapped in the concrete," said Captain Jean-Marc Castagnet, head of the French team. "We may have to amputate her foot. We will do everything not to that."


Earlier, the French team amputated a man's hand to extract him from the rubble.


Shock over the enormous scale of the tragedy was turning to anger meanwhile for countless Turks who spent a second night camped in yards, parks, even on highway medians because they feared going home -or had none to return to.


Dwindling food supplies on top of crippled power and water lines in some areas added to the mood of desperation. Crowds mobbed a convoy of bread trucks th at entered Izmit, one of the hardest hit cities, on Wednesday.


The masses huddled under bright tents or bed sheets tied to sticks provided mute testimony to the difficulties that lie ahead in returning the densely populated region to normal.


"We don't trust our own homes," said Dilek Turkmen, 21, as she watched rescue workers sifting through the rubble of a collapsed apartment building on the outskirts of Istanbul.


An inferno at the seaside Tupras oil refinery was brought under control Thursday, but was churning out enormous plumes of dark smoke that gave even sunny skies a twilight pallor.


Planes dropped chemical foam on the blaze and water cannons tried to cool surrounding tanks to keep them from blowing as well.


Firefighters put out blazes in some areas Thursday, but three storage tanks were still in flames. The damage already done threatens severe setbacks to an area that accounts for a third of Turkey's economic output.


Turkey's business newspaper, Finansal Forum, estimated the quake would cost Turkey's struggling economy $25 billion.


People pleaded for rescuers to try to find loved ones in towers of rubble that had once been apartments. Many of them were poorly constructed structures that housed the poor who flocked to cities for jobs created by economic growth over the last three decades.


In Yalova, where some 350 people died in collapsed buildings, one of the city's biggest contractors narrowly escaped a lynching Wednesday by an angry mob that accused him of shoddy construction practices. His car was set ablaze.


But there were some glimmers of hope.


Hurriyet newspaper reported that seven people have been saved so far from collapsed buildings after they used their cell phones to call for help.


A team from Israel arrived in a village near Yalova, 150 kilometers southwest of Istanbul, after reports of 14 Israelis trapped in rubble. Police said one was pulled out alive.