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Turkish rescuers drill into rubble to seek quake victims

Turkish emergency teams drilled through the rubble Monday, searching for the last two missing quake victims believed trapped beneath a collapsed building after eastern Turkey was slammed by a powerful tremor.

The magnitude 6.8 earthquake that struck Friday night killed at least 39 people and injured more than 1,600 others, authorities said. At least 45 survivors were pulled out of the rubble alive.

Rescue workers were working at a collapsed building in the city of Elazig, trying to reach a missing 75-year old woman and another person, as relatives waited patiently nearby, NTV television reported. It was not immediately clear if the missing two have survived.

Rescue workers continue to look for people trapped under debris following a strong earthquake that destroyed several buildings on Friday, in Elazig, eastern Turkey, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Working against the clock in freezing temperatures, Turkish rescue teams pulled more survivors from collapsed buildings Sunday, days after a powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit the country's east. (AP Photo)

The body of a third missing person was pulled out of the collapsed structure overnight, raising the death toll in the quake to 39, NTV reported.

The quake destroyed 76 buildings and damaged more than 1,000 others, forcing survivors to take refuge in tents, mosques, schools, sports halls and student dormitories. Authorities warned people not to return to homes that could be unsafe.

As overnight temperatures dropped to -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit), emergency teams set up more than 9,500 tents for displaced residents and distributed hot meals.

Two women embrace as rescue workers try to save people trapped under debris following a strong earthquake that destroyed several buildings on Friday, in Elazig, eastern Turkey, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Working against the clock in freezing temperatures, Turkish rescue teams pulled more survivors from collapsed buildings Sunday, days after a powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit the country's east. (AP Photo)

Over the weekend, rescuers pulled out Ayse Yildiz, 35, and her 2-year-old daughter Yusra from the rubble of another toppled apartment building in Elazig. They had been trapped for 28 hours.

One rescued couple was reunited with a Syrian student who had helped to dig them out with his hands.

“He is our hero and angel,” a weeping Dudane Aydin said of Mahmud al Osman.

Rescue workers continue to look for people trapped under debris following a strong earthquake that destroyed several buildings on Friday, in Elazig, eastern Turkey, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Working against the clock in freezing temperatures, Turkish rescue teams pulled more survivors from collapsed buildings Sunday, days after a powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit the country's east. (AP Photo)

Her husband Zulkuf said the student went to extraordinary lengths to get them out, especially when his wife's leg was trapped by debris. With other workers holding the student by his legs, he stretched toward the woman and freed her.

Turkey's Emergency and Disaster Management Presidency said close to 4,000 workers and 22 dogs have been involved in the search-and-rescue operation since Friday.

Earthquakes are frequent in Turkey, which sits atop two major fault lines.

Rescue workers continue to look for people trapped under debris following a strong earthquake that destroyed several buildings on Friday, in Elazig, eastern Turkey, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Working against the clock in freezing temperatures, Turkish rescue teams pulled more survivors from collapsed buildings Sunday, days after a powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit the country's east. Authorities said the death toll rose to at least 35 people. (AP Photo)

Friday’s quake hit at 8:55 p.m in the city that lies 565 kilometers (350 miles) east of Ankara. It was followed by hundreds of aftershocks.

It's not the first time that Elazig has seen a fatal quake — a magnitude 6.0 earthquake killed 51 people there in 2010.

Turkey's worst quake in decades came in 1999, when a pair of strong earthquakes struck northwest Turkey, killing around 18,000 people.

Tents setup by the government for survivors following a strong earthquake that destroyed several buildings on Friday, in Elazig, eastern Turkey, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, as rescue workers continue to find people trapped under the debris. Working against the clock in freezing temperatures, Turkish rescue teams pulled more survivors from collapsed buildings Sunday, days after a powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit the country's east. (AP Photo)

Tents setup by the government for survivors as rescue workers try to save people trapped under debris following a strong earthquake that destroyed several buildings on Friday, in Elazig, eastern Turkey, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Working against the clock in freezing temperatures, Turkish rescue teams pulled more survivors from collapsed buildings Sunday, days after a powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit the country's east. Authorities said the death toll rose to at least 35 people.(AP Photo)

Tents setup by the government for survivors as rescue workers try to save people trapped under debris following a strong earthquake that destroyed several buildings on Friday, in Elazig, eastern Turkey, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Working against the clock in freezing temperatures, Turkish rescue teams pulled more survivors from collapsed buildings Sunday, days after a powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit the country's east. Authorities said the death toll rose to at least 35 people.(AP Photo)

Rescue workers continue to look for people trapped under debris following a strong earthquake that destroyed several buildings on Friday, in Elazig, eastern Turkey, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Working against the clock in freezing temperatures, Turkish rescue teams pulled more survivors from collapsed buildings Sunday, days after a powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit the country's east. Authorities said the death toll rose to at least 35 people. (AP Photo)

Rescue workers try to save people trapped under debris following a strong earthquake that destroyed several buildings on Friday, in Elazig, eastern Turkey, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Rescue workers were continuing to search for people buried under the rubble of apartment blocks in Elazig and neighboring Malatya. Mosques, schools, sports halls and student dormitories were opened for hundreds who left their homes after the quake. (Ismail CoskunIHA via AP)

Rescue workers try to save people trapped under debris following a strong earthquake that destroyed several buildings on Friday, in Elazig, eastern Turkey, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Rescue workers were continuing to search for people buried under the rubble of apartment blocks in Elazig and neighboring Malatya. Mosques, schools, sports halls and student dormitories were opened for hundreds who left their homes after the quake. (Ismail CoskunIHA via AP)

People gather inside a sports hall to spend the night following Friday's earthquake that destroyed their houses, in Elazig, eastern Turkey, late Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. More than 24 hours after a powerful earthquake hit eastern Turkey rescuers continued to pull survivors from under collapsed buildings Sunday. (Ugur CanDHA via AP)

Members of rescue services carry a wounded man, that was found in the rubble of a building destroyed on Friday's earthquake in Elazig, eastern Turkey, Saturday Jan. 25, 2020. Rescue workers were continuing to search for people buried under the rubble of apartment blocks in Elazig and neighbouring Malatya. Mosques, schools, sports halls and student dormitories were opened for hundreds who left their homes after the quake (IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation via AP)

Rescuers work on searching for people buried under the rubble on a collapsed building, after an earthquake struck Elazig, eastern Turkey, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. Rescue workers were continuing to search for people buried under the rubble of apartment blocks in Elazig and neighbouring Malatya. Mosques, schools, sports halls and student dormitories were opened for hundreds who left their homes after the quake (IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation via AP)

Rescuers work on searching for people buried under the rubble on a collapsed building, after an earthquake struck Elazig, eastern Turkey, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. Rescue workers were continuing to search for people buried under the rubble of apartment blocks in Elazig and neighbouring Malatya. Mosques, schools, sports halls and student dormitories were opened for hundreds who left their homes after the quake (IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation via AP)