People search through collapsed buildings in the village of Tabanli, near the city of Van, hoping to rescue those trapped under debris—victims of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck Turkey yesterday afternoon.
The Turkey earthquake, one of the most severe in the country since 1999, was centered just outside of the provincial capital of Van, near Turkey's border with Iran. The quake was followed by multiple aftershocks, including one that registered as a magnitude 6.0.
The disaster has so far seen a death toll of almost 300 people, and the number continues to climb. Tens of thousands of people are also homeless due to the quake, and rescue workers are setting up tents and providing supplies such as blankets and heaters to help people survive outside in the mountainous region's near freezing temperatures.
"It is a very urgent situation," Hakki Erskoy, a disaster manager for the Turkish Red Crescent,"Right now, we are facing a race against time to provide shelter for people."
About 970 buildings in the region were demolished by the quake, according to CNN, including about 55 structures in Ercis.
The earthquake struck in eastern Turkey, reportedly one of the country's poorest areas. The death toll due to collapsed buildings is being blamed partly on the prevalence of mud-brick construction in the surrounding villages, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a press conference in Van.
In addition to those who lost their homes, many people in the affected region are reluctant to return to the buildings that are still standing, and relief groups are now working to accommodate thousands of people in tent cities and other makeshift shelters.
A spokesperson with the Turkish Red Crescent said that up to 13,000 tents—each big enough to hold four people—have been sent to the quake zone, and the aid agency is preparing to temporarily house as many as 40,000 survivors.
In addition to delivering tents and supplies, the Turkish Red Crescent is reportedly providing emotional support for people who've lost loved ones or who are waiting to hear about the missing.