Turkey quake toll rises as leaders mull moving homes at risk

Almost a week after a 7.2 magnitude quake hit Ercis in Turkey, authorities say the death toll has risen to 582.

Story highlights

  • 231 people have been rescued alive, Turkey's deputy prime minister says
  • The death toll rises to 582 after last Sunday's quake, a crisis center says
  • Most of the casualties were in the town of Ercis in eastern Van province
  • The United States and China are sending aid to the survivors

The number killed in a huge earthquake that rocked eastern Turkey last weekend climbed to 582 Saturday, Turkish state-run Anatolia news agency said, as the government drew up a new law that would move homes from high-risk areas.

The tally of those injured in last Sunday's 7.2-magnitude quake rose to 4,152, according to a crisis center in the eastern province of Van, Anatolia reported.

The center said 455 of the deaths had occurred in the town of Ercis, where rescue efforts have continued all week.

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said Saturday 231 people have been found alive in the wreckage, Anatolia reported, despite temperatures dropping close to freezing at night.

Atalay said 84 buildings had collapsed in Ercis and six in the city of Van. Search efforts will continue at four apartment buildings in Ercis until the end of the day, the agency quoted him as saying.

Two teenagers were pulled alive out of the rubble of apartment buildings late Thursday and early Friday, more than 100 hours after the quake.

Relief crews have distributed 40,721 tents -- including 6,088 from abroad -- and 159,360 blankets to survivors, authorities said. A total of 1,309 aftershock quakes have occurred since Sunday's main temblor, officials said.

Turkey's government plans to present a new law to parliament by the end of December which would see the evacuation of settlements in areas at high risk of natural disaster, Anatolia reported.

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Laws governing construction and property management would also be revised under the so-called Urban Transformation Law, the agency said.

The United States and China are the latest countries to offer help to Turkey's quake survivors.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered the U.S. European Command to provide humanitarian relief supplies including blankets, cots, sleeping bags and hygiene kits, the Pentagon said Friday.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government is to send $1 million to Turkey and the Red Cross Society of China has donated $50,000, Xinhua quoted a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman as saying.