Turkey earthquake: Aid lorries looted by survivors

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Media captionThe BBC's Tim Wilcox spoke to a rescue worker about the rescue effort

The Turkish Red Crescent said that 17 lorries carrying aid for earthquake victims have been looted.

Local officials in the city of Van said that survivors, furious at not receiving supplies, had raided the convoy for food and blankets.

In the worst-hit town of Ercis, thieves stopped a lorry carrying tents.

Two more people were pulled alive from the rubble on Wednesday, but hopes are fading that more survivors will be found.

More than 480 people are known to have died in Sunday's earthquake, but the Red Crescent believes that hundreds are still trapped under the rubble, feared dead.

Rescue workers are trying to get food and blankets to survivors as temperatures plummet in the mountainous region.

Thousands of people - who have been left homeless - are spending a fourth night in freezing weather conditions and snow.

Turkey has said it will accept offers of aid from foreign countries to cope with the aftermath of the earthquake, after initially declining offers of help.

Housing survivors

The Turkish authorities said there was an urgent need for accommodation.

Van province Governor Munir Karaloglu said 3,000 buildings had collapsed or were made useless.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Tents are needed to house tens of thousands left homeless by the quake

"Some residents with no damage in their homes are unable to go back because of aftershocks. That is why everyone wants tents," Reuters quoted him as saying.

"We estimate the total number of people affected is 600,000. To provide tents to this amount of people in one or two days is something no country would be able to do.

"After the search and rescue efforts our biggest problem is housing. Our biggest need is tents for those citizens whose houses have completely collapsed."

Survivors, many now living in camps, have fought over shipments of aid and blocked deliveries.

Health officials have urged them to drink bottled water after detecting an increase in diarrhoea cases, especially among children.

Nazmi Gur, a local politician in Van, told the BBC News website that "hundreds of thousands of people" needed help.

"We can provide food but they desperately need shelter," he added.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged there had been failures in the distribution of tents.

A teacher, 27, and a student, 18, were rescued on Wednesday in Ercis.

Gozde Bahar, an English-language teacher, was rescued as her mother watched in tears.

University student Eyup Erdem was found using tiny cameras mounted on sticks.

Rescuers broke into applause as he emerged from the debris.

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Media captionTwo people were pulled from the rubble on Wednesday

Caravans needed

Turkey is seeking assistance for reconstruction and temporary accommodation for the thousands who have been left homeless, the semi-official news agency Anatolia reported.

The government wanted tents, prefabricated houses and living containers, it said.

President Abdullah Gul said there would be "no discrimination" in the countries it accepted aid from, the Hurriyet newspaper reported.

Israel would be among the first to send aid, according to AFP news agency.

Ties with Turkey have been strained since May 2010, when Israeli naval commandos stormed a flotilla trying to sail to Gaza in defiance of a blockade, killing nine Turks.

"Turkey has asked us for caravans for the homeless after the earthquake," Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told the AFP.

He said they had accepted the request and would seek to supply them as quickly as possible.

The Japanese embassy in Ankara said its government would send around $400,000 (£250,000), Turkey's Anatolia news agency reports.

The British Red Cross has launched an appeal to help tens of thousands of people left homeless.

Meanwhile, the government said inmates at a Van prison who had started a fire on Tuesday had been transferred either to tents inside the prison yard, or to jails in other provinces, Hurriyet reports.

The prisoners had been angry at their continued detention in the prison building, which they feared had been damaged in the earthquake and aftershocks.

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

The latest disaster struck on Sunday at 13:41 (10:41 GMT) at a depth of 20km (12 miles), with its epicentre 16km north-east of the city of Van.

Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation

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