Dust and stench cover neighborhoods at epicenter

Dust and stench cover neighborhoods at epicenter
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People are forced to wear masks because of dust and strong stench emanating from sites of rubble in Maras, as remains of around 200 victims are estimated to be still in the rubble.

Search teams have still not dug into the rubble of hundreds of collapsed buildings in Turkey's southeastern city of Maras almost three weeks after twin quakes struck on 6 February, and a thick stench and dust covering neighborhoods in the city compel people to wear masks in the streets, Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) reported on Sunday.

There are still bodies in the rubble, MA cited locals, adding that while the debris is being gradually removed mainly in the city's main arteries like Trabzon, Azerbaycan, 15 July and Zobeydehanim streets, the rubble of many buildings in backstreets remain essentially untouched.

The towns of Pazarcik and Elbistan in the province were the epicenters of two successive quakes on 6 February, respectively Magnitude 7.7 and 7.6.

The people are forced to wear masks outside because of the dust and a strong stench emanates from the sites of rubble, believed to be the stench of decaying remains of victims, MA said, and cited an employee of Disaster and Emergency Management (AFAD) saying that around 200 victims are estimated to be still in the rubble.

A digger operator told MA: "We are now mostly engaged in efforts to recover properties of business owners. Some say they have valuable items buried in the rubble, and some are trying to salvage just whatever they can."

A resident of a collapsed building, Mehmet Ali Aytekin said:

"The entire city is in ruins. Everyday, I arrive at the site at 8 AM and leave in the evening. I'm staying in a tent. There are some things buried in the rubble of the building, and we're trying to recover them. They haven't yet started digging into it."

The removed debris is taken to three dump areas outside the city by trucks, MA said.