Rescue workers pull out a man from the rubble of a collapsed hotel in Van, eastern Turkey, November 10, 2011.
Rescue workers pull out a man from the rubble of a collapsed hotel in Van, eastern Turkey, November 10, 2011.

Rescue workers in Turkey are again searching for survivors of an earthquake less than three weeks after a 7.3-magnitude quake hit the Van region that killed around 600 people and left thousands homeless.

A 5.7-magnitude earthquake shook Van late Wednesday, collapsing at least 25 buildings. Officials say all but three were empty after being evacuated following the October 23 earthquake, but at least eight people were killed in Wednesday's temblor.  

Turkey-born Ayhan Irfanoglu, a civil engineer at Purdue University in the midwest U.S. state of Indiana, was in Turkey to help determine why the damage was so extensive after the October 23 quake.  He says there were design and construction errors.

"They have been building very tall structures, and unfortunately, from a structural or engineering point of view, deficient structures, they had some design errors in the structures," said the engineer.

But Irfanoglu does not believe the recent quakes will lead to a change in building codes.

"The Turkish seismic design code is actually very good. It's very sophisticated," Irfanoglu  added. "The problem is with the enforcement and with the control."

Irfanoglu believes better training of inspectors is the key. "I think training, overall training would be helpful, because there are so many lives and so much investment made in infrastructure in Turkey in buildings," he said.

"It is really heartbreaking to see people who ask you if it is safe to live in their building. It is very difficult to tell them 'no', but at the same time you know they may be at risk," he added.

Rescue workers have also pulled at least 25 survivors from the rubble.  But many are still believed to be trapped in the wreckage and dozens of angry residents clashed with police to show their displeasure over relief efforts. Police responded with tear-gas and batons. Many of the survivors from the first quake are still living in tents or make-shift open-air camps as temperatures continue to drop.  

State television reported that among the newly toppled buildings was a six-story hotel, which was used by foreign journalists and aid workers.  

The U.S. Geological Survey says the epicenter Wednesday was about 15 kilometers from Van province, which was devastated by the October earthquake.   

It is not clear if Wednesday's quake was a strong aftershock.


Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.