The Azerbaijan State News Agency

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Turkish survivors rescued 3 days after quake

Baku, October 26 (AZERTAC). Two men comfort each other near a collapsed building in Ercis, near the city of Van, Turkey, on Oct. 25. Rescuers continue to search for survivors after a major earthquake in southeast Turkey.

A teacher and a university student were rescued from ruined buildings on Wednesday, almost three days after a devastating earthquake struck eastern Turkey, but searchers said hopes of finding anyone else alive were diminishing.

Excavators began clearing debris from some of the collapsed buildings in Ercis after searchers removed bodies and determined there were no other survivors, as health officials warned of increase in cases of diarrhea, especially among children.

"At the moment, we don`t have any other sign of life," said rescuer Riza Birkan. "We are concentrating on recovering bodies."

Rescue workers work to save people trapped under debris after an earthquake in Ercis, Turkey, on Tuesday. Osman Orsa/Reuters

The quake that struck eastern Turkey on Sunday has killed at least 461 people. Desperate survivors fought over aid and blocked aid shipments while a powerful aftershock ignited widespread panic that triggered a prison riot in a nearby provincial city.

Gozde Bahar, a 27-year-old English-language teacher was pulled out of a ruined building on Wednesday with injuries some 67 hours after the 7.2-magnitude quake. Her mother watched the rescue operation in tears.

Earlier, rescuers also pulled out 18-year old university student Eyup Erdem, using tiny cameras mounted on sticks to locate him. They broke into applause as he emerged from the wreckage after being trapped for 61 hours.

The two, both rescued in Ercis — the worst hit area in the temblor that also rattled Iran and Armenia — were the last to be pulled alive.

Health Ministry official Seraceddin Com said some 40 people were pulled out alive from collapsed buildings on Tuesday.

They included a 2-week-old baby girl brought out half-naked but alive from the wreckage of an apartment building 48 hours after the quake. Her mother and grandmother were also rescued, but her father was missing.

The pockets of jubilation were however, tempered by many more discoveries of bodies by thousands of aid workers.

On Wednesday, health officials said they had detected an increase in diarrhea cases, especially among the children, and urged survivors to drink bottled water until authorities can determine whether the tap water may be contaminated.

Turkey accepts aid offer from Israel

With thousands left homeless or too afraid to return to damaged houses, Turkey said it would accept international aid offers, even from Israel, with which it has had strained relations. The country said it would need prefabricated homes to house survivors during the winter. Israel offered assistance despite a rift between the two countries over last year`s Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla that killed nine Turkish activists.

Some 2,000 buildings collapsed and some 1,350 people were injured. The fact that the quake hit in daytime, when many people were out of their homes, averted an even worse disaster.

Close to 500 aftershocks have rattled the area, according to Turkey`s Kandilli seismology center. A strong aftershock on Tuesday sent residents rushing into the streets in panic while sparking a riot that lasted several hours by prisoners in the city of Van, 90 kilometres south of Ercis. The U.S. Geological Survey put that temblor at a magnitude of 5.7.

Some prisoners demanded to be let out while others set bedding on fire as the revolt spread inside the 1,000-bed prison, the Dogan news agency reported.

Gerald Rockenshaub, disaster response manager at the World Health Organization, said the first 48 to 72 hours are crucial for rescues and the chances of finding survivors decrease significantly after that. People can survive without food for a week or so, but having access to water is critical, especially for the elderly and infants, he said.

Turkey lies in one of the world`s most active seismic zones and is crossed by numerous fault lines. In 1999, two earthquakes with a magnitude of more than 7 struck northwestern Turkey, killing about 18,000 people.

Istanbul, the country`s largest city with more than 12 million people, lies in northwestern Turkey near a major fault line, and experts say tens of thousands could be killed if a major quake struck there.

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