26 Oct 2011

Turkish government accepts quake aid

10:06 pm on 26 October 2011

As rescue workers continue to search for survivors from the Turkish earthquake, the government there now says it will accept offers of foreign aid to help the victims.

The disaster is now known to have claimed at least 459 lives. Officials say more than 1300 people were also injured in the 7.2 magnitude quake, and 2262 buildings have collapsed.

Prime Minister John Key says New Zealand has offered to send a search team, which is now on standby.

Rescuers pulled a two-week-old baby girl and her mother and grandmother alive from under a collapsed building on Tuesday, two days after the quake.

"It's a miracle!", said Senol Yigit, the uncle of the baby, Azra, whose name means "purity" or "untouched" in Arabic.

"I'm so happy. What can I say. We have been waiting for two days. ''We had lost hope when we first saw the building," he said.

Earlier, a pregnant woman and her two children were also pulled out of the rubble.

However, hope of finding more people alive under tonnes of rubble have faded with every passing hour as rescuers pulled out more bodies.

Rescue efforts are focused on the town of Ercis, a town of 100,000 people, which was the worst affected and the provincial capital, Van.

Thousands of homeless people spent a second freezing night in crowded tents or huddled around fires and in cars, as the region is rattled by aftershocks.

Another aftershock with a magnitude of 5.4 occurred just before 6pm on Tuesday (local time).

Another 12,000 tents are to be delivered to the region.

The Turkish government has now said it will accept offers of foreign aid to help the victims.

Prison turmoil

Prisoners set fire to a jail in Van and gunshots were heard as inmates fought their guards following a big aftershock.

A soldier there says the prisoners attacked their guards with scissors. Two hundred inmates are reported to have already escaped after the quake.

Flames were reported at the building and white smoke billowed into the night sky, before half a dozen shots were heard.