Death toll rises in Turkish quake

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Death toll rises in Turkish quake

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A powerful earthquake which struck eastern Turkey yesterday afternoon has claimed the lives of at least 200 people, while hundreds more have been injured.

With around a thousand still missing beneath the rubble the death toll is expected to go on rising.

The 7.2 quake cut electricity supplies and phone lines. Rescuers powered their equipment with generators while they searched for signs of life under collapsed buildings in the city of Van.

Civilians joined the search, using their bare hands to clear the debris.

In the dark of night and bitter cold the situation appeared chaotic with too few officials on hand to manage as aftershocks continued to rock the city.

Dozens of buildings collapsed in Van and dozens more in the nearby district of Ercis.

The earthquake is among the strongest in Turkish history and the worst since 1999, when more than 20,000 people were killed.

Turkey is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because it sits on major geological fault lines.

A Turkish foreign ministry official said later that Turkey had received offers of help from dozens of countries after the quake struck but had so far declined assistance from all of them, including Israel.