Number of earthquake victims continues to rise in Turkey

Ercis, Turkey - Using shovels, heavy machinery and their bare hands, rescue workers scrambled through piles of rubble to find survivors Monday after a deadly 7.2-magnitude earthquake devastated parts of eastern Turkey.

There were conflicting reports about the number dead. As many as 264 people are dead and 1,300 are injured after Sunday's quake, Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin told reporters Monday. However, Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay put the death toll at 239 in a news conference.

It was difficult to tally the number of injured, Health Minister Recep Akdag said, because many were being treated and released.

Turkey's semi-official Anatolian news agency quoted Sahin as saying a total of 970 buildings had collapsed.

The military was assisting with search and rescue efforts, Atalay said.

Numerous aftershocks -- the largest a magnitude 6.0 -- rattled eastern Turkey, one of the nation's poorest areas.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 55 buildings collapsed in Ercis on the north shore of Lake Van. The Turkish Red Crescent said about 25 apartment buildings and a student dormitory collapsed in the town.

Rescuers and survivors contended with near-freezing temperatures early Monday. Some people collected wood from collapsed buildings to burn for warmth.

Sunday's major quake struck at 1:41 p.m. local time.