- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 26, 2011

ERCIS, Turkey (AP) — Two teachers and a university student were rescued from ruined buildings in eastern Turkey on Wednesday, three days after a devastating earthquake, but searchers said hopes of finding anyone else alive were fading rapidly.

NTV television said 25-year-old teacher Seniye Erdem was pulled out around the same time that rescue workers also freed another teacher. The woman was thirsty and asked about her husband, who had died, it said

Excavators with heavy equipment began clearing debris from some collapsed buildings in Ercis after searchers removed bodies and determined there were no other survivors. The 7.2-magnitude quake Sunday has killed at least 461 people and injured more than 1,350.

“At the moment, we don’t have any other signs of life,” rescuer Riza Birkan said. “We are concentrating on recovering bodies.”

Still, rescue efforts continued in some areas of Ercis, the town hit worst by the temblor, which also rattled Iran and Armenia.

Gozde Bahar, a 27-year-old English teacher, was pulled out of a ruined building on Wednesday with injuries as her tearful mother watched anxiously. The state-run Anatolia news agency said her heart stopped at a field hospital but doctors managed to revive her.

Earlier in the day, rescuers pulled out 18-year old university student Eyup Erdem, using tiny cameras mounted on sticks to locate him. They broke into applause as he emerged from the wreckage.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 63 teachers were among the dead, and he alleged that shoddy construction contributed to the high casualty toll. He compared the alleged negligence of some officials and builders to murder because they ignored safety standards.

“Despite all previous disasters, we see that the appeals were not heeded,” Mr. Erdogan said.

He acknowledged problems in sending aid for thousands of people who were left homeless but said close to 20,000 tents have since been sent to the quake zone. Turkey has said it will accept prefabricated homes and containers from other countries to house survivors, many of whom have slept in the open in near-freezing temperatures for three nights.

“There was a failure in the first 24 hours, but in such situations such shortcomings are normal,” Mr. Erdogan said. “There may not be sufficient equipment in depots at the start, but these have (now) been resolved with equipment from other depots.”

The quake destroyed one school, and Turkish engineers were making sure other schools were safe or rendering them fit to resume lessons. Some 800 students at the school in Ercis probably were saved because the quake hit on a Sunday.

On Tuesday, some groups of desperate survivors fought over aid and blocked aid shipments while a powerful aftershock ignited widespread panic that triggered a prison riot in a nearby provincial city.

Health Ministry official Seraceddin Com said some 40 people were pulled out alive from collapsed buildings on Tuesday. They included a 2-week-old baby girl brought out half-naked but alive from the wreckage of an apartment building two days after the quake. Her mother and grandmother were also rescued, but her father was missing.

The pockets of jubilation were tempered by many more discoveries of bodies by thousands of aid workers.

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