By Ozcan Yildirim, Muhammed Boztepe and Duygu Yener
ANKARA (AA) - A group of key Turkish Cabinet ministers on Tuesday pledged continued help for the victims of last week’s earthquake in eastern Turkey.
Urgent help for rent on 58 buildings that collapsed during the earthquake in the city of Sivrice, in the Elazig province, the quake’s epicenter, will be sent today, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told reporters at the Elazig Governorship.
Nearly 5,100 personnel and around 1,000 members, representatives, and volunteer of NGOs continue to work, and the razing of damaged buildings has already begun, he added.
He also said security forces working in the field have reached 200 villages and are providing tents those in need.
He also said livestock is being distributed today to those who lost their animals in the quake and 30,000 tons of coal are being provided.
To date 24 million Turkish lira (nearly $4 million) has been provided, and today president Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered an additional 20 million ($3.4 million) for Elazig and the eastern Malatya province.
On Syrian refugee Mahmud al-Osman, praised as a hero for using his bare hands to clear away rubble to rescue survivors, Soylu said work is underway to give al-Osman and his family Turkish citizenship.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca also told reporters that 41 people died in the devastating quake.
Initially over 1,600 people sought hospital care, but now there are 70 patients in hospitals, nine of them in special care units, he added.
Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum said they will initially build 3,850 residences for those who lost their homes.
For now, the National Defense Ministry said 150 earthquake victims will be housed in a military compound in Elazig.
The 6.8-magnitude quake shook the eastern Elazig province late on Friday, according to the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD). Tremors were also felt in neighboring countries, including Syria and Georgia.
*Writing by Davut Demircan