Turkey earthquake rescue work halted by violent clashes and gunfire as looters run amok in devastated cities

VIOLENT clashes and gunfire between “rival factions” have halted rescue efforts in quake-hit Turkey – as looters run amok in devastated cities.

Multiple aid organisations had to suspend operations due to security fears after gunfire was reported in the disaster zone.

AFPRescue operations have been underway since the earthquake ravaged communities on Monday[/caption]

Fighting has broken out in some of the most devastated areasLocal residents have recorded some thieves in local phone stores

German rescuers and the Austrian army reported clashes between unnamed armed factions, which are expected to become more violent as food supplies decrease in coming days.

Reports of mass arrests for looting in the aftermath of the disaster have made headlines, and several guns have been seized from criminals, according to local media.

Austrian Army Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Kugelweis told BBC News: “There is increasing aggression between factions in Turkey.

“The chances of saving a life bears no reasonable relation to the safety risk.

“There are increasing reports of clashes between different groups, and shots are said to have been fired.”

After the terrifying skirmishes, the Turkish army reportedly offered protection to aid groups, allowing the rescue missions to continue.

Turkish media reported that upwards of 50 people have been arrested for looting.

Hatay, in southern Turkey, has seen an influx of criminal activity, with the thiefs carting away smartphones, computers, guns and other goods.

Some shopkeepers are on guard and hunting down the selfish looters as they struggle to recover from the earthquake.

Hatay resident Aylin Kabasakal said she is frustrated as the homes in her city are ravaged by criminals in the wake of destruction.

She said: “We’re guarding our homes, our cars. The looters are looting our homes.

“There’s nothing left to say, unfortunately. We’re destroyed, we’re shaken. What we have gone through is a nightmare.”

Guns, cash, jewellery and bank cards were seized from the looters, according to reports.

Mehmet Bok, 26, was searching for a colleauge in the city of Antakya when he witnessed looters.

He said: “People were smashing the windows and fences of shops and cars.”

Turkish President Recep Erdogan hasn’t commented on the unrest in Hatay, but has said he will take action against looters in the regions affected by the deadly quake.

In spite of the widespread chaos, many stories of hope have risen from the rubble.

Two-year-old Aliye was freed after 133 hours trapped by the rubble in a miraculous rescue.

After nearly five days trapped face down in darkness, 15-year-old Ikbal Cil was prised free from beneath a collapsed ten-storey tower block in southern Turkish city Kahramanmaras.

Rob Davies, team leader of British rescue charity SARAID, told the Sun on Sunday: “All that she was interested in, bless her, was her Harry Potter books.

The newborn tot Yagiz Ulas was pulled from the rubble, along with her mother, 90 hours after Turkey’s biggest ever recorded quake entombed families nearby.

Yagiz was found by search and rescue teams who wept with relief after freeing them from a tiny crevice under tons of rubble.

The Sun’s Earthquake Appeal has so far raised £900,000, to supply desperately needed food, hygiene kits, blankets and tents.

To donate, visit redcross.org.uk/sunaid

The SunScan this QR code to donate to the appeal[/caption]

Getty2-year-old Aliye Dagli was rescued after 133 hours in the rubble[/caption]

GettyThe tot had been stuck in freezing cold weather and crushed for days[/caption]

Peter JordanIkbal reportedly asked her UK rescuers for Harry Potter books[/caption]

Rescue workers have been working day and night using thermal imaging to find survivorsTwo men can be seen grabbing electronicsMilitary and local shopkeepers have been guarding their storefrontsStorefronts have been smashed in many areasResidents are struggling to find food and shelter after the devastating quakeRexThe 7.8 magnitude quake shook Turkey and Syria early Monday morningRexAPKahramanmaras has been one of the worst-affected cities in the disaster zone[/caption]

ReutersFields have filled with graves, marked by wooden posts[/caption]


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