FT. LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – The death toll is expected to rise after a powerful 7.2 earthquake rocked eastern Turkey.

At least 239 people were killed in the quake.

The images of the destruction were difficult to watch for members of the Florida Turkish American Association. It was also difficult for them to take their eyes off the television.

“The rubble is not even removed yet and it is cold winter started and the villages are not reached yet so we are really worried,” said Fuat Ornarli.

The group gathered in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday to show support for the people of Turkey.

Ornarli, who came to South Florida from Turkey thirteen years ago, is a structural engineer. He said the buildings in southeastern Turkey are not as strong as they are in other parts of the country.

Their worry now is that the impending winter weather will pose a challenge to rescuers.

“Right now people are trying to remove the rubble but people can survive for five days and so everybody should work hard and thank God that not only within Turkey a lot of neighboring countries promised to send aid including United States,” said Ornarli.

Fellow Turkish-American Vural Uluer added, “This is a big destruction and we’ll hope and pray that we’ll recover again.”

Officials said hundreds of mud-brick homes in villages and concrete buildings in two cities tumbled down in the earthquake that struck near the border with Iran, on Sunday. Worst-hit was the city of Ercis, an eastern city of 75,000 close to the Iranian border and one of Turkey’s most earthquake-prone zones, where about 80 multi-story buildings collapsed.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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