Screams Rise from School Rubble after Quake Horror; Rescuers Battle to Reach Children in Buried Dormitory

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 2, 2003 | Go to article overview
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Screams Rise from School Rubble after Quake Horror; Rescuers Battle to Reach Children in Buried Dormitory


Byline: James Helicke # in Turkey

RESCUE teams were feverishly clawing their way through the ruins of a boarding school's dormitory last night, hunting for dozens of children trapped after a pre-dawn earthquake in eastern Turkey.

The children's screams could be heard rising from under the wreckage of what was a co-educational school for the children of poor Kurds.

The quake killed up to 150 people and injured 1,000 in the region.

More than 70 children were pulled from the debris of the school during the day.

Relatives rushed toward soldiers every time a rescued child was carried out on a stretcher to check if their children had been saved.

Rescuers found the bodies of 11 children and one teacher in the rubble.

A civil defence official said they had located at least eight children alive under the rubble. One child had his feet crushed but the others were in good condition and had received water from rescuers. Some 198 pupils aged seven to 16 were sleeping in the dormitory when the quake hit the town of Bingol before dawn. Most were sons of poor Kurdish farmers from surrounding villages that do not have schools and are difficult to reach.

Veysel Dagdelen, 12, said, ``My friends are waiting for help in there. They were calling for help as they were pulling me out.''

Naim Gencgul, a boy of 15 who was pulled out with a broken arm, said, ``The whole building was on top of me. We all started screaming.''

Officials said they were still holding out hope of finding more survivors and rescue workers were searching for up to 90 children who were unaccounted for.

Many rescued students were treated for their injuries on mattresses laid out near the flattened building.

The 6.6-magnitude earth-quake struck at 3.27am (1.27am BST) and was centred just outside the city of Bingol, 430 miles east of Ankara.

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