10 Nov 2011

Dozens trapped or missing in new Turkish quake

10:00 pm on 10 November 2011

Rescuers are searching for dozens of people trapped in rubble after a 5.6 earthquake hit eastern Turkey, killing at least seven people.

Twenty-five buildings have collapsed, including a six-storey hotel in the city of Van, where officials say journalists and aid workers were staying.

Emergency workers say 23 people have been rescued alive but that up to 100 more remain unaccounted for, the BBC reports.

Last month, a 7.2 quake in the same area killed 600 people. There have been hundreds of aftershocks since that disaster and thousands of people are still camping out in tents in freezing conditions in the area.

All but three of the buildings that toppled in the latest quake were empty, Turkey's deputy prime minister says, as they had been evacuated after the 23 October quake.

The United States Geological Survey says the quake, which struck at 9.23pm on Wednesday (8.23am Thursday NZ time), was centred 16 kilometres south of Van at a depth of 4.8 kilometres.

Rescuers working through the night

Television pictures from Van show residents and rescuers trying to lift debris to free people trapped under ruined buildings. Rescue workers were using high-powered lights to work through the night.

The BBC's correspondent in Turkey says the city became the headquarters of the relief effort for the last quake, and has been flooded by aid workers and journalists.

Some of the journalists trapped in the collapsed Bayram Hotel have reportedly sent text messages to colleagues asking to be rescued.

Local MP Nazmi Gur says the government failed to check buildings after the October quake.

"We called to the government," he says, "we called the governor, we called to many people, please check all the buildings - including hotels - but they didn't listen to us."