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Turkey quake traps children

A child is rescues from the debris of a damaged building in Bingol, Turkey.
A child is rescues from the debris of a damaged building in Bingol, Turkey.

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BINGOL, Turkey (CNN) -- At least 100 schoolchildren are feared trapped under the remains of their four-story school dormitory in southeastern Turkey following a powerful earthquake.

At least 85 people in the city of Bingol were killed and at least 430 others injured in the quake, Turkish officials said.

Turkey's minister of public works said he expects the death toll to rise to 150.

"May God save us from the worst," said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who toured Bingol Thursday.

The quake measured a magnitude of 6.4, according to the Kandilli Observatory, the largest in Turkey. It happened at 3:27 a.m. Thursday (8:27 p.m. Wednesday ET) and was centered in Bingol.

According to Bingol Mayor Feyzullah Karaaslan, 25 buildings collapsed in the city when the quake hit, including a dormitory at the Celtiksuyu boarding school, housing more than 190 students at the time of the quake.

Rescue workers were able to save 71 students, but at least 25 died under the rubble and about 100 were still trapped hours later.

Onlookers cheered as one 12-year-old boy was rescued from the wreckage. (Eyewitness reports)

The quake was followed by more than 70 aftershocks, which CNN Turk's Fatih Turkmenoglu described as minor. "None of the aftershocks were really powerful," he said. "Turkish people are very much used to the earthquakes."

The quake also cut power to the city.

"We have collapsed buildings and people trapped under them. We hope to keep the loss of life to a minimum," Huseyin Cos, governor of Bingol province, told CNN Turk.

Shortly before leaving Ankara for Bingol, Erdogan said: "All of our state organizations and the Red Crescent are now in Bingol. There are some more reaching the town and some on their way to Bingol from Ankara."

Bingol is a small and underdeveloped city with few high-rises and not much heavy industry. Officials warned residents to stay away from their homes for fear of collapse.

Magnitude 6.4 earthquakes are classified as "strong" quakes, capable of causing much damage, especially in areas of poor construction.

In 1999, a 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck northwestern Turkey near the Sea of Marmara, killing more than 18,000 people. Poor construction standards were blamed for the large number of deaths.


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