Though the official death toll in the wake of southeast Turkey's earthquake has hit about 270, officials fear that as many as 1,000 people may have been killed in the 7.2 shaker that toppled scores of buildings yesterday. "We estimate some 1,000 buildings are damaged and our estimate is for hundreds of lives lost. It could be 500 or 1,000," said a spokesman for a Turkish seismology institute, reports the Telegraph. Van, a city of some 500,000, was hit particularly hard; rescuers and neighbors are battling exhaustion to dig out trapped residents, reports the BBC.
More than 1,000 tents and hundreds of emergency food packages have been sent to the area by the Turkish Red Crescent humanitarian organization, and offers of aid are pouring in from around the world. "There are so many dead," said the mayor of Ercis, another devastated town. "Several buildings have collapsed, there is too much destruction. We need urgent aid. We need medics. We can hear the screams of people who are under the rubble, in agony." (Read more Turkey stories.)