ERCIS, TURKEY – Rescuers frantically searched for survivors amid mounds of concrete, twisted steel and construction debris Monday, a day after a 7.2-magnitude quake leveled buildings and killed at least 279 people in eastern Turkey.
The search for survivors had continued through the night, with some successes, but officials acknowledged they were powerless to prevent a steep rise in the death toll after Sunday afternoon's earthquake -- the biggest to rock the country in more than a decade.
The prime minister's emergency agency, AFAD, said at least 279 people had been confirmed dead and a further 1,300 were injured across the region. Thousands more were left homeless amid bitter winter temperatures.
The quake damaged at least 2,262 buildings, with Van city and the Ercis district the worst affected, AFAD said.
Over 3,000 rescue personnel were assisting the region's search and rescue efforts with the help of medical teams, search dogs and military aircraft to shuttle supplies to the affected regions. But widespread power outages were hampering their response.
Dozens of people were still trapped in the rubble, while dozens more were placed in body bags or covered by blankets and laid down in rows so people could search for their missing relatives.
"It's my grandson's wife. She was stuck underneath rubble," Mehmet Emin Umac told the Associated Press.
Grieving families cried outside the Ercis mosque.