Turkey earthquake: Tear gas used on protesters after second quake

Turkey earthquake: A 5.7 magnitude quake hit Van, Turkey - the second major earthquake in three weeks. Police dispersed protestors angry over relief efforts from the first quake.

Reuters TV/Reuters
Rescuers carry earthquake survivor Miyuki Konnai of Japan, after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck near Van, Turkey, on Thursday.
Rich Clabaugh/Staff

Riot police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse protesters angry at the state's relief efforts after the second earthquake in eastern Turkey in three weeks killed at least 10 people in the city of Van.

Rescue teams searched for survivors after the 5.7 magnitude tremor on Wednesday night heaped misery on the predominantly Kurdish region where more than 600 people died following a major quake on October 23.

"How can you fire pepper spray on people who have already suffered so much?" said Abdulrahim Kaplan, 32. He had gone to the crisis center for a tent when police began firing tear gas, he said.

"Our people are freezing. We are sleeping outside -- all seven of my family," he said, complaining bitterly over the alleged unfair distribution of tents. "Some people take five tents, some 10 and others get nothing. This is wrong."

Thousands of families are living in makeshift camps with temperatures falling to freezing with the onset of winter. The latest tremor cut power to the area.

Some 200 demonstrators chanted for the resignation of the provincial governor in a rally close to two city center hotels that collapsed during the latest quake.

Working through the night, searchers had rescued 27 people from the ruins of the hotels, said a statement from Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Administration (AFAD).

Two of those brought out, including a 16-month-old, were flown by air ambulance to a hospital in the capital Ankara.

Rescue workers pulled a Japanese woman to safety from the rubble of the Bayram Hotel almost six hours after the quake but a Japanese doctor succumbed to his injuries, state-run Anatolian news agency reported.

The woman, Miyuki Konnai, was part of a rescue and relief team sent to Van from Japan after the first quake. She was found injured but conscious and could be seen talking to her rescuers as she was carried to an ambulance.

"I am cold. Rescue me quickly," said a man aged around 55 to 60 years old. When rescued 11 hours after the quake, he was strapped into a stretcher and carried to a waiting ambulance.

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay, who visited the devastated Bayram Hotel with Turkey's foreign minister, said 25 buildings had collapsed in Van, of which 23 were empty.


The owner of the flattened five-storey hotel, Aslan Bayram, told broadcasters that building experts had given his 47-year-old property the all-clear after last month's quake. At the time of the quake, some 15 guests were believed to be in the hotel.

Overwhelmed by demand for tents in the early days, authorities decided families would be given them only after their homes were checked by officials to see if they were habitable.

Many people were too frightened to return to homes with cracked walls and ceilings as multiple aftershocks continued to rattle the region.

"What am I going to do? I don't have a tent, I don't even know who to get a tent from. Nobody tells me. I cannot go back into my flat... Where will I go tonight? It can happen again," Halit Yazgan, 44, said as an aftershock shook a nearby building and sent men running for the middle of the road.

The latest quake struck 16 km (9 miles) south of Van at 1923 GMT on Wednesday, while the epicentre of the October 23 quake was just northeast of Van.

A tremor of 5.7 magnitude would not normally cause significant damage but thousands of buildings sustained damage in last month's quake, and some were in a dangerous condition.

Atalay, responding to journalists' questions over why one of the hotels had been given the all-clear, said only preliminary, rather than definitive assessments on structural damage had been carried out on the building.

Turkey is criss-crossed with seismic faultines and experiences small tremors nearly every day. Some 20,000 people were killed by two large earthquakes in western Turkey in 1999.

(Writing by Daren Butler and Simon Cameron-Moore; Editing by Matthew Jones and Robert Woodward)

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