Turkey pledges swift reconstruction after strong earthquake

13:49, March 09, 2010      

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Turkey has pledged efforts to build stronger houses in immediate reconstruction after 51 people had been confirmed killed in the 6.0-magnitude quake Monday in east Turkey.


A man walks past debris in front of a destroyed house in the village of Okcular. A powerful pre-dawn earthquake buried sleeping villagers in remote eastern Turkey, claiming at least 51 lives and leaving dozens injured, officials said. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

Dozens more were being treated at hospitals around the Karakocan town of the eastern Elazig Province, the epicenter of the earthquake, the Elazig governor's office said in a statement.

The death toll was slightly revised down from an earlier report of 57.

Rescue efforts ended Monday afternoon as there were no more people trapped under rubble.


Locals sit on debris in front of a destroyed house in the village of Okcular. A powerful pre-dawn earthquake buried sleeping villagers in remote eastern Turkey, claiming at least 51 lives and leaving dozens injured, officials said. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

The quake struck Basyurt region of Karakocan town at a depth of five km at 4:32 a.m. local time (0232 GMT), said the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute of Turkey's Bogazici University.

Officials blamed the mud-brick houses for the casualties, which they said had exacerbated the disaster.


A woman caresses her animals in front of a destroyed house in the village of Okcular. A powerful pre-dawn earthquake buried sleeping villagers in remote eastern Turkey, claiming at least 51 lives and leaving dozens injured, officials said. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

Buildings made of cement and steel had only "minimal damage, such as cracks," said provincial governor Muammer Erol.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a message of support from the capital Ankara and expressed sorrows over the casualties.

Erdogan urged local officials to start reconstruction as soon as possible, pledging that stronger houses would be built to protect local people from similar damages.


A woman walks past debris in front of a destroyed house in the village of Okcular. A powerful pre-dawn earthquake buried sleeping villagers in remote eastern Turkey, claiming at least 51 lives and leaving dozens injured, officials said. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

"Mud-brick construction is undoubtedly a local tradition there. But unfortunately, it has proved to have a heavy price," he said.

Ambulance helicopters were sent to the quake zone, while the Turkish Red Crescent had dispatched experienced personnel and relief materials to the area, including 230 tents, 1,000 blankets and 20 prefabricated houses, according to the prime minister.

Survivors huddled around bonfires and stoves at the entrance of tents in the freezing temperature as night fell. People had been trying to look for anything useful from under the rubble, but were scared off by frequent aftershocks.


A dead donkey lies on debris in front of a destroyed house in the village of Okcular. A powerful pre-dawn earthquake buried sleeping villagers in remote eastern Turkey, claiming at least 51 lives and leaving dozens injured, officials said. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

Altogether 27 aftershocks were registered after the quake and more are expected over the next hours and days, said the Kandilli quake research institute.

Officials warned people not to stay in damaged buildings or anywhere near the partly damaged constructions.

Turkey is a quake-prone country with much of its territories lying atop the North Anatolian fault. In 1999, more than 18,000 people were killed in two devastating earthquakes in the country.

Source: Xinhua
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