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Members of rescue services search in the debris of a collapsed building for survivors in Izmir, Turkey, after a powerful earthquake that struck Turkey's Aegean coast and north of the Greek island of Samos on Friday. Photo: AP

Turkey quake toll hits 60, as man rescued from rubble after being buried for 33 hours

  • Authorities say 58 people died in Turkey and two in Greece after the earthquake on Friday which had a magnitude of 6.9
  • Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the area. Over 700 injured people have been discharged from hospitals

A 70-year-old man was pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building in the Turkish city of Izmir on Sunday, after being buried for 33 hours following a powerful earthquake struck Turkey’s Aegean coast and Greek islands.

Turkish authorities reported more deaths on Sunday, bringing the toll to 58, all in Izmir, while two teenagers died on the Greek island of Samos.

The man, identified as Ahmet Citim, was rescued from one of 20 residential buildings destroyed in Izmir’s Bayrakli district, which was in the process of urban transformation due to lack of earthquake resistance.

“So far, we know that 58 of our citizens were killed in the quake, and 896 people were injured,” the Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on Sunday.

Rescuers search for survivors at a collapsed building after an earthquake in Izmir, Turkey. Photo: EPA-EFE

Erdogan added that the government was “determined to heal the wounds of our brothers and sisters in Izmir before the cold and rains begin”.

Some 702 victims have so far been discharged from hospitals, while eight remain in intensive care units, according to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.

Turkey is crossed by fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. In 1999, two powerful quakes killed 18,000 people in northwestern Turkey.

The Friday earthquake, which the Istanbul-based Kandilli Institute said had a magnitude of 6.9, was centred in the Aegean Sea, northeast of Samos.

Earthquake kills 25 in western Turkey and two people on Greek island of Samos

Sixteen-year-old Inci Okan was trapped under the rubble of the same eight-storey building as the elderly man before being rescued 17 hours after the strong quake, along with her dog Fistik (Pistachio).

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca and National Medical Rescue Team (UMKE) member Edanur Dogan visited Okan at hospital.

Emergency worker Dogan had held the girl’s hand while rescue teams removed the debris above her.

“I am very happy. Thankfully my father was not at home. My father couldn’t fit there. He would hurt his head. I am tiny. I am short so I squeezed in and that’s how I was rescued. We stayed home with my dog. Both of us are well,” Okan said from her hospital bed.

Okan promised to play the violin for Dogan after being discharged from hospital. “I will play the violin for you, I promise.”

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan visits the site of a collapsed building after an earthquake in the Aegean port city of Izmir. Photo: Reuters

This is the third deadly earthquake so far this year in Turkey, which sits on several active seismic fault lines. Two separate earthquakes in the country’s east killed more than 40 people in January.

Erdogan vowed to rebuild homes for those affected and speed up earthquake safety measures.

A devastating quake near Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, in 1999 killed more than 17,000 people in the greater region.

Turkey has since introduced stricter construction regulations and initiated projects to rebuild weak buildings, particularly the unregulated flats that mushroomed amid a rush to build up urban centres since the 1970s. The opposition has criticised Erdogan’s government for failing to accelerate urban transformation efforts.

A woman and a child stand amid a tent city set up by Turkish officials in Izmir after an earthquake. Photo: Reuters

Most of the collapsed buildings in Izmir are more than 35 years old and were built in poor standards, experts argued on TRT broadcast.

“We swiftly need to overcome bureaucratic obstacles before urban development,” Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), told reporters on Saturday in Izmir.

He urged parliament to take action.

Additional reporting by DPA

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: More than 100 rescued from collapsed buildings