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Hopes fade in Turkey quake

Kurdish demonstrators clash with police as Turkish soldiers stand guard in Bingol.
Kurdish demonstrators clash with police as Turkish soldiers stand guard in Bingol.

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Death toll rising after earthquake hits southeastern Turkey
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BINGOL, Turkey (CNN) -- Anxious parents were clinging to the slimmest of hopes that their children might be found alive amid the rubble left by an earthquake that killed dozens of people in southeastern Turkey.

Meanwhile, Turkish residents angry with the government's response to the powerful quake rioted in the southeastern town of Bingol Friday.

The 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit heavily Kurdish southeastern Turkey about 3:30 a.m. Thursday (8:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday) and brought down at least 25 buildings in Bingol, including a boarding school.

Officials said 50 students and one other person, possibly a teacher, were confirmed dead at the Celtiksuyu school.

Workers were still digging for survivors at the school late Friday despite not having heard sounds from the rubble for several hours.

Forty students remained unaccounted for, officials said. Two teachers and 118 students have been brought out alive.

The last person to be rescued was brought out remarkably unscathed, with only a few bumps and bruises, CNN's Gaven Morris said.

"I just hope my son will be rescued alive," said Osman Karatas, whose 18-year-old son Ahmet attended the school.

The school -- which housed 199 children ranging in age from 12 to 18 -- was reduced to rubble.

The bodies were pulled from the boys' dormitory, where the top two floors collapsed.

Many of the boys were killed in a hallway trying to rush out to safety as the building gave way. Others were killed in their top bunks when the ceiling came crashing down, rescuers said.

The girls' dormitory was destroyed, and officials said they have not heard any sounds of children alive there. They have not said how many girls were housed there.

As rescuers brought in heavy machinery to clear sections of the school where they were certain no one remained alive, anger in the small, underdeveloped town built to a head and exploded.

People gathered Friday in the town center complaining that the government's response to the crisis had been too slow and inadequate.

Police fired warning shots into the air as the crowd, hurling stones, stormed police headquarters.

A mother screams near the collapsed school where dozens of students are believed to be trapped.
A mother screams near the collapsed school where dozens of students are believed to be trapped.

More police spilled into the streets, firing more warning shots.

Witnesses said police also fired into the crowd, wounding at least two people.

An emergency vehicle drove through the crowd, sending most of the protesters fleeing.

As the crowd dispersed, the police withdrew from the city and the military moved in to provide security.

Bingol's police chief was fired as a result of his handling the demonstrations, government officials told CNN's Morris.

At the school, crews used sophisticated listening devices to detect boys alive in the debris early Friday and worked through the night to free them.

Journalist Gokhan Eren said he had seen at least seven boys pulled out alive between midnight and 3 a.m. Friday (5-8 p.m. EDT Thursday).

"I see a mother sitting right on top of the rubble, just hitting herself and mourning," Eren told CNN.

"Meanwhile, rescue workers (are) suddenly rejoicing and bringing out a boy who's holding his hand up and waving it around, as if he was just born."

Each time a boy was freed from the twisted heap of concrete, his name was announced to the crowd of relatives gathered at the site.

Rescuers then called for silence so they could listen for the sounds of more voices and begin digging again.

Earthquakes are common in Turkey, which lies at the convergence of three major tectonic plates.

Thursday's earthquake occurred 43 miles southeast of the epicenter of a magnitude 6.1 earthquake that killed one person and injured several others in January.

A magnitude 8.0 quake in 1939 killed an estimated 33,000 people about 75 miles northwest of Thursday's epicenter.


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