Nightly News   |  October 24, 2011

Rescue workers race against the clock in Turkey

Hundreds are still missing in the aftermath of the earthquake that shook southeast Turkey Sunday. NBC's Michelle Franzen reports on the survivor stories and continuing rescue effort.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Now we have to turn overseas to the unfolding disaster in eastern Turkey after a powerful 7.2 earthquake centered near the border with Iran but rippling across a wide area. Tonight, more than 270 people are officially known dead, but there are so many people trapped and missing across the countryside that number is expected sadly to climb sharply higher in the coming days. NBC 's Michelle Franzen is in the quake zone for us tonight with the latest on the search for survivors there. Michelle , good evening.

MICHELLE FRANZEN reporting: Well, Brian , rescue crews have been working throughout the night here, looking for signs of life. A short time ago that work stopped. Sadly, they found someone that had died beneath the rubble there of this flattened apartment building here in Ercis . But the work continues, not only at this spot in Ercis but also throughout this hard-hit region, and no one is ready to give up hope that they can reach other survivors before it's too late. A young man pulled from the rubble more than 30 hours after being buried alive. A toddler freed from a cage of mangled steel and concrete and carried to safety. Rare survival stories giving hope to this devastated town which felt the full force of yesterday's earthquake. Scores of buildings were simply flattened in an instant. No one knows just how many people might still be alive, trapped in the rubble. Rescue workers are racing against the clock to reach survivors in time, clearing debris with heavy equipment, shovels and by hand. Right now it's a race against nightfall. This used to be a six-story building housing businesses on the ground floor along with families and university students who lived there. Rescuers have been focusing here all day, believing there are signals people may still be alive. The grief here is overwhelming. Families have begun making funeral arrangements for loved ones, and the full scope of the disaster is not yet known. The quake struck Sunday, early afternoon, caught on closed circuit cameras as terrified residents ran for cover. Many survivors are now too frightened to return to homes that are still standing as aftershocks continue to hit, more than 200 so far. Aid workers are doing what they can but there is little relief. Turkey 's prime minister sent troops to the region and came in person to see the damage and comfort the victims in this largely Kurdish part of the country. People here say they just need more help to save those trapped. And the work continues here and the aid also is pouring in, including from the United States . But there are also questions as to how many buildings could collapse and why, whether it's through faulty construction, especially in areas that are prone to earthquakes. Brian :

WILLIAMS: Michelle Franzen on the rescue effort in Turkey tonight. Michelle ,