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World - Middle East

Turkish quake survivor found alive after five days

A woman trapped beneath a collapsed building for five days was rescued Sunday

A country lies shattered

The story of a rescue
CNN's Jerrold Kessel reports on Turkey's struggle to balance the urgent needs of the living with respect for the dead (Aug. 22)
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Wade Medlock reports that dehydration kills many quake victims after 72 hours, but some beat the odds (Aug. 21)
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CNN's Ben Wedeman reports that for each rescue, hundreds more corpses are being discovered (Aug. 21)
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CNN's Jerrold Kessel reports six people were pulled from the rubble of Tuesday's earthquake (Aug. 21)
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Chronology of major earthquakes over the last 20 years
Turkey Quake
Click here to listen to reactions to the earthquake in Turkey

Officials scramble to house homeless, prevent disease

August 22, 1999
Web posted at: 9:57 a.m. EDT (1357 GMT)

In this story:

'The doctors haven't slept'

Death toll could top 40,000

Disaster raises risk of disease


From staff and wire reports

GOLCUK, Turkey (CNN) -- A 45-year-old woman has been found alive in the rubble of a massive earthquake five days ago that left more than 12,000 people dead in Turkey.

The woman, described as an invalid, was rescued in the city of Golcuk, about 110 miles (175 km) southeast of Istanbul. There was no immediate word on her condition.

But with hopes dimming that more survivors would be found -- rescuers found only six people alive Saturday -- officials Sunday concentrated on finding shelter for the 200,000 residents left homeless by the disaster.

Authorities also were concerned about preventing disease and infection among the survivors.

With most of the victims buried under tons of twisted steel and crumbling concrete, rotting bodies cast a foul odor over the town of Golcuk. Lack of fresh water and toilets, officials said, could create an atmosphere ripe for communicable disease.

"There is speculation of typhoid and cholera, but it is untrue. We have identified no cases," said Suat Duranay of the Health Ministry crisis center in Ankara. "Dysentery and gastroenteritis are possibilities, but we are taking measures."

Still, efforts to help survivors may be hampered by the breadth of the disaster and the lack of organization among groups who are trying to help.

'The doctors haven't slept'

At the town hospital, weary doctors toiled as crowds of injured people shouted.

"For five days now, the doctors haven't slept," said paramedic Murat Silayli. "They have everything they need, but there is no organization. Nobody is coordinating anything."

It took hours for a team of 20 French doctors to find a site for a field hospital, said paramedic Olivier Laurans.

A total of 19,000 tents were set up in the most devastated areas to shelter survivors and provide places to care for the injured. At least 20,000 more were needed, and the United Nations planned to provide 70 percent of them, field worker Ziya Gokmen said.

"The building of tents will be our next big effort," U.N. official Jesper Holmer Lund told reporters.

Rescuers have begun setting up tent cities to house those left homeless by Tuesday's magnitude 7.4 quake and others who fear their homes cannot withstand aftershocks, some of which were felt in Istanbul early Sunday.

"We all survived! It was a miracle!" said one survivor whose family lived on the top floor of their building. "Most of the downstairs neighbors are dead. I have been here since morning. Hopefully tonight, we will be able to sleep in a tent."

Prefabricated huts were expected to be set up in the industrialized region around the city of Izmit. Unused tourist accommodations also will be made available.

Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said some 60,000 buildings had been destroyed or damaged. The World Bank has said it will supply Turkey with $220 million to help finance new housing.

Death toll could top 40,000

The official death toll from Tuesday's quake topped 12,000 by late Saturday, and the United Nations said it feared the death toll would eventually rise to more than 40,000.

Reaching both the survivors and the dead in the sweltering summer heat has been a slow and tedious process. Experts say people trapped in such situations usually die of dehydration within 72 hours -- a period that arrived Friday morning. People in similar instances, however, have survived for as long as 10 days.

In Golcuk and other towns in western Turkey, bulldozers ripped open trenches in cornfields as emergency crews piled bodies into mass graves.

The official death toll stood at 12,025 late Saturday, with more than 34,000 injured. Tens of thousands were still missing, and authorities expect most will be found dead beneath the ruins of their homes. Officials feared outbreaks of disease could drive the death toll even higher.

Disaster raises risk of disease

Around northwestern Turkey, smashed sewage lines and the thousands of homeless living on garbage-strewn streets without portable toilets or fresh water compounded the risk of cholera and other infectious diseases. Medical teams were immunizing rescue workers against typhoid and warning of health dangers as more bodies were pulled from the rubble.

Rescue officials said there was no drinkable water in Yalova. In Izmit and Bursa, medicine, milk and food were the biggest needs; and in Golcuk, calls were made for medicine, especially antibiotics. With temperatures soaring into the 90s and corpses piling up, rescue crews wore surgical masks to fend off the overbearing stench.

The prime minister's crisis office said medical teams had begun picking up garbage, spraying disinfectants and distributing water purification tablets.

"There are many people, animals and food under the debris," said Health Ministry official Rifat Kose. "An epidemic could occur as they decay, but we are taking necessary measures."

Correspondents Jerrold Kessel and Jim Bitterman and Reuters contributed to this report.

Rescues bring flash of hope amid grim toll of Turkey quake
August 20, 1999
Aftershock raises fears as Turkey quake toll reaches 7,000
August 19, 1999
Hopes fade, frustration grows in Turkey after deadly quake
August 18, 1999
Turkish earthquake kills more than 2,000
August 17, 1999
Major earthquake rocks northwestern Turkey
August 16, 1999

Disaster Relief from
American Red Cross
Doctors Without Borders
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
World Relief
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Inc. Turkey Earthquake Relief

Hurriyet News Online
Turkish Daily News Online
News from Turkey
USGS National Earthquake Information Center
Global Earthquake Response Center
Newton's Apple: Earthquake Info
Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute
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