Aegean quake toll rises, Turkish rescuers make final search

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The death toll in last week's Aegean Sea earthquake has risen to 116 on Wednesday as rescuers in the Turkish city of Izmir focused on the final two collapsed buildings.

All but two of the victims were killed in Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city. Two teenagers died on the Greek island of Samos, which lies to the south of the epicenter of last Friday’s earthquake.

Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said search and rescue operations had been completed at 15 of 17 buildings that fell as the violent quake shook Izmir.

Of 1,035 injured people, 137 remained in hospitals, the agency added. More than 100 people have been pulled from the rubble of apartment buildings.

Following a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged not to give up until the final person was recovered. Rescuers’ spirits were raised Tuesday when they pulled a 3-year-old girl from the wreckage of her family home 91 hours after the quake.

The U.S. Geological Survey registered the quake’s magnitude at 7.0, though other agencies recorded it as less severe.

The tremors were felt across western Turkey, including in Istanbul, as well as in the Greek capital of Athens. Some 1,700 aftershocks followed, according to AFAD, 45 of which were greater than 4.0 magnitude.

In Izmir, the quake reduced buildings to rubble or saw floors pancake in on themselves and authorities detained nine people, including contractors, for questioning over the collapse of six of the buildings.

Turkey has a mix of older buildings and cheap or illegal constructions that do not withstand earthquakes well. Regulations have been tightened to strengthen or demolish older buildings, and urban renewal is underway in Turkish cities, but experts say it is not happening fast enough.

The country sits on top of two major fault lines and earthquakes are frequent.

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