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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 May, 2003, 09:17 GMT 10:17 UK
Quake headteacher speaks of ordeal
Rescuers search for possible survivors in the collapsed four-story dormitory in the village of Celtiksuyu, Turkey
The hunt of survivors has ended

The headteacher of the Turkish school destroyed by an earthquake on Thursday has been speaking about the impact of the tragedy, as the search for bodies drew to a close.

Mustafa Gurhan said that of the nearly 200 children who had been in the dormitory when it collapsed, 115 had been brought out alive and the last of the 84 bodies were recovered on Sunday morning.

"The three days since the earthquake have been the most terrible days of our lives. It's over now but it's going to affect our whole lives," he told the BBC.

"We've lost our students, we've lost our schools... We've lost our lives."

Officials say 167 people are known to have died in the earthquake in Bingol in the south-west of the country while more than 1,000 are reported injured.

What I'm really looking for is my diary that was signed by all my friends
Hanefi Beldek, survivor

There is still intense grief in Bingol.

"What I'm really looking for is my diary that was signed by all my friends. There is nothing in the world that I want more right now," a 15-year-old boy Hanefi Beldek told Associated Press news agency.

There have been protests by residents against what they saw as the inadequate response of the Turkish authorities.

Kurdish tensions

At the ruins of the school, in the nearby village of Celtiksuyu, many parents were upset when rescuers started using cranes and heavy equipment to shift the rubble.

"We had a difficult time in the early hours of the earthquake when we had no equipment or specialists but after they arrived I think they did all they could to rescue people," said Mr Gurhan.

Within the rubble from collapsed buildings small spaces can be left
These spaces can be created by supportive objects such as drinks machines or filing cabinets
People can survive in these pockets for days, sometimes weeks

"We believe 99% that everybody has been found. We believe that parents would still be waiting there and there are no parents waiting anymore," he said.

Bingol is a mainly Kurdish town 640 kilometres (400 miles) east of the capital Ankara - an area with long-standing tensions between the public and the police.

The primary and middle boarding school was built for the children of farmers from surrounding villages that have no schools and poor transportation services.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised an investigation after complaints of poor building standards at the school. Other buildings nearby appeared untouched.

"The guilty will be prosecuted," he said on a visit to the area.

Inspectors took samples from the wrecked dormitory for a government investigation of the man contractor who built the school.

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The BBC's Brian Barron
"Aid is now flowing"

In pictures: Turkey earthquake
02 May 03  |  Photo Gallery
Clues to future tremors
06 Mar 03  |  Science/Nature
Deadly history of earthquakes
01 May 03  |  In Depth
Quake survivors describe ordeal
01 May 03  |  Europe


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