Nearly 900 people have been injured

Earthquake death toll rises to 62 in Turkey

photo_camera AFP/MERT CAKIR - Image of an earthquake in Turkey

At least 62 people have died and almost 900 have been injured in Turkey by the 6.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the Aegean coasts at noon on Friday, according to the figures given by the Turkish vice president of government, Fuat Oktay on Sunday.

A total of 104 people have already been released alive from the rubble of 17 collapsed buildings in the city, Oktay said in a press conference in Izmir, which was broadcasted live by NTV.

The teams of the Turkish emergency service AFAD continue their work in nine buildings in Izmir, a city that, with four million inhabitants, is the third biggest in Turkey and the most affected by the earthquake, whose epicentre was located 60 kilometres away from the city in the Aegean Sea.

The last person saved was apparently a 70-year-old man, Ahmet Çitim, who was rescued shortly after midnight locally and transferred to a hospital after being trapped for 33 hours, a success celebrated as a "miracle" by the Turkish press. Since then, several bodies have been recovered, but so far none seems to be alive.

A total of 896 people were treated by the health services after the earthquake, 682 of them have now been discharged, 214 are still under treatment, and among the latter there are about a dozen in intensive care, according to AFAD figures released this morning.

Although there are no official estimates as yet of the number of missing persons still under the rubble, rescue teams estimate that approximately 30 remain unaccounted for, rescue specialist Muhammed Zahiroglu told local press.

On Sunday morning, the ground in Izmir was still shaking, although it was getting weaker. According to AFAD, since midday Friday, when the strong earthquake surprised the citizens of the city, 812 aftershocks have been recorded, 40 of them of a magnitude greater than 4 degrees, since midday Friday, when the great earthquake surprised the citizens of the city.

The earthquake was felt over a wide area, even in several cities in Bulgaria, while in nearby Samos in Greece it killed two young people, bringing the total and provisional number of deaths from the disaster to 64.