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Dozens Dead in Strong Turkey Earthquake

Monday, 08 Mar 2010 09:43 AM


ELAZIG, Turkey — Rescuers struggled to dig survivors from under the rubble after a strong quake struck eastern Turkey early Monday, killing at least 57 people and injuring dozens more, officials said.

The quake, 6.0 on the Richter scale, struck at 04:32 am (0232 GMT) at a depth of five kilometres, with an epicentre near the Karakocan town in Elazig province, the Istanbul-based Kandilli observatory said on its web site.

The 39 known dead perished in five villages located near the epicentre of the tremor, Governor Muammer Erol told CNN Turk television, with rescuers trying to save at least four people trapped under the debris in one village.

The crisis management centre in capital Ankara said at least 60 people were injured, the Anatolia news agency reported. A previous death toll given by the centre stood at 17 dead in the villages of Okcular, Yukari Kanatli ve Kayali.

At least eight of the dead came from Okcular, one of the largest villages in the region with a population of about 800, many living in mud-brick homes built on hillsides, reports said.

"Villages consisting mainly of mud-brick houses have been damaged, but we have minimal damage such as cracks in buildings made of cement or stone," governor Erol said.

At least four of the victims were children.

Some 25 to 30 houses were demolished by the tremor in Okcular, Yasar Cagribay, the head of the rescue team, told CNN Turk said.

The local hospital was inundated with the injured, the channel said, adding that doctor reinforcements and medical aid were on their way.

The disaster management centre announced that it had sent rescuers, blankets and tents to the quake region.

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek had left Ankara for the disaster zone along with Health Minister Recep Akdag, Housing Minister Mustafa Demir and State Minister Cevdet Yilmaz, Anatolia said.

The tremor was also felt in the neighbouring provinces of Bitlis and Diyarbakir, sending residents rushing out on to the streets in panic where they spent the rest of the night in fear, CNN-Turk said.

Several aftershocks were felt in the region.

Deadly earthquakes are frequent in Turkey, which is crossed by several active fault-lines. Two powerful tremors in the heavily populated and industrialized northwest claimed about 20,000 lives in August and November 1999.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

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2010-43-08
Monday, 08 Mar 2010 09:43 AM
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