Quake kills at least 93 in Van, 45 in Ercis: Erdogan

VAN, Turkey Sun Oct 23, 2011 6:38pm EDT

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VAN, Turkey (Reuters) - At least 138 people were killed in a powerful earthquake that struck southeast Turkey on Sunday, but the number still buried beneath the rubble in the province of Van is still unknown, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said.

Erdogan visited the town of Ercis by helicopter to see the scale of devastation. On return to Van city he said in a televised statement that at least 93 people had been confirmed dead in Van city and 45 in Ercis, some 100 km (60 miles) to the north. An official at the provincial crisis center had earlier said officials had received patchy information so far and the casualty toll would undoubtedly rise.

Erdogan said Turkey was able to cope with the disaster by itself, but thanked other countries for offers of help, including Israel and Armenia, whose governments have strained ties with Ankara.

(Reporting by Ece Toksabya; Writing by Simon Cameron-Moore; Editing by Tim Pearce)

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