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Three survivors pulled out of Turkish quake rubble

ERCIS, Turkey — Two teachers and a university student were rescued from ruined buildings in eastern Turkey on Wednesday, three days after a devastating earthquake, but searchers said hopes of finding anyone else alive were rapidly fading.

NTV television said 25-year-old teacher Seniye Erdem was pulled out around the same time that rescue workers also freed another teacher. The woman was thirsty and asked about her husband, who had died, it said.

Excavators with heavy equipment began clearing debris from some collapsed buildings in Ercis after searchers removed bodies and determined there were no other survivors. The 7.2-magnitude quake Sunday has killed at least 461 people and injured more than 1,350.

"At the moment, we don't have any other signs of life," said rescuer Riza Birkan. "We are concentrating on recovering bodies."

Still, rescue efforts continued in some areas of Ercis, the worst-hit town in the temblor that also rattled Iran and Armenia.

Gozde Bahar, a 27-year-old English teacher, was pulled out of a ruined building Wednesday with injuries as her tearful mother watched anxiously. The state-run Anatolia news agency said her heart stopped at a field hospital but doctors managed to revive her.

Earlier in the day, rescuers 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 rubble.

Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said 63 teachers were among the dead and he alleged that shoddy construction contributed to the high casualty toll.

Erdogan acknowledged problems in sending aid for thousands of people who were left homeless, but said close to 20,000 tents have since been sent to the quake zone. Turkey has said it will accept prefabricated homes and containers from other countries to house survivors, many of whom have slept in the open in near-freezing temperatures for three nights.

The quake destroyed one school and Turkish engineers were making sure other schools were safe or rendering them fit to resume lessons. Some 800 students at that school in Ercis were probably saved because the quake hit on a Sunday.

Men formed a long line for tents in Ercis, but there was chaos elsewhere. The head of the Turkish Red Crescent organization, Ahmet Lutfi Akar, said 17 trucks were looted before aid could be distributed.

More than 500 aftershocks have rattled the area. A 5.7-magnitude aftershock Tuesday sent residents rushing into the streets in panic while sparking a prison riot that lasted several hours in the city of Van, 55 miles south of Ercis.

On Wednesday, authorities transferred some 350 of the inmates to jails in other cities after prisoners, demanding to be let out, set bedding on fire and the revolt spread inside the 1,000-bed prison.

Three survivors pulled out of Turkish quake rubble 10/26/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 10:33pm]
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