One reporter found dead, one still under the rubble after the earthquake

One reporter found dead, one still under the rubble after the earthquake

VAN - Doğan News Agency
One reporter found dead, one still under the rubble after the earthquake

Rescue efforts are still continuing on the 40-year-old collapsed Bayram Hotel. DHA photo

Cem Emir, one of the reporters trapped under the Bayram Hotel rubble, was announced dead as the rescuers finally reached his body more than two days after the quake hit the province of Van in eastern Turkey.

Two Doğan news agency (DHA) reporters, Van bureau reporter Sebahattin Yılmaz, 52, and Diyarbakır bureau reporter Cem Emir, 26, have been under the rubble of the collapsed Bayram Hotel in Van for two days like dozens of others.

The DHA team covering the earthquake in the region was staying in the Bayram Hotel as were other colleagues and rescue teams. They were buried under the rubble of the hotel building that collapsed when an earthquake struck on the evening of Nov. 9.

Despite the efforts by rescue teams from various provinces, Sebahattin Yilmaz haven't been reached yet. Even though they are using the latest technological means, the rescue teams must proceed step by step, cutting the iron rods that are blocking the way. The progress is reported to be slow because the hotel has many rooms.

The search and rescue teams managed to reach their room located on the third floor of the hotel. With a lot of hope, the teams went into the ruins of the room to find their cameras, press cards, bags and clothes but the reporters were not found. Soon, the dead body of Cem Emir was found amongst the dust and stone.

It is assumed Yılmaz and Emir were not in the room at the time of the collapse and were either in the corridor or in the lobby. Rescue teams are continuing their search even though it had been 50 hours since the earthquake when the Hürriyet Daily News went to print.

“In our profession we always come across disasters,” DHA General Manager Uğur Cebeci told the Associated Press as he watched rescuers in red overalls search through the debris of the once five-story hotel. “But we are grappling with helplessness here.”

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu called DHA’s Cebeci. “I am also praying for the rescue of your friends and our citizens,” he said. Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç and Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker also called Cebeci to be informed about the latest developments.

Yılmaz and Emir covered the activities of visiting ministers and other developments in the region all day Nov. 9 and filed their stories and videos. Around 8:30 p.m. they were back at the hotel to send their last batch of stories to DHA headquarters in Istanbul. The hotel was accommodating other media and rescue teams in the region.