Relief work underway for quake victims in Turkey

14:50, May 21, 2011      

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Turkish authorities are conducting disaster relief work for hundreds of homeless people after a 5.9- magnitude earthquake hit the northwestern Kutahya province late Thursday.

Turkey's Red Crescent set up two kitchens and dispatched 2,013 tents as well as food, water, blankets and other necessities to the quake-hit area, State Minister Cemil Cicek told a press conference on Friday.

Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency has transferred 343 search, rescue and health teams from the provinces of Istanbul, Izmir, Bursa, Afyon, Usak and Kutahya to Simav town, the epicenter of the quake, along with 50 ambulances, 83 vehicles and five sniffer dogs, the minister added.

Turkish soldiers were also helping rescue teams to set up the tents to accommodate the homeless, while the state hospital in Simav was evacuated and the injured were carried to other nearby hospitals, local authorities said.

The Red Crescent said Friday two empty buildings collapsed in Simav, along with a five-story building and a mosque, but no one was reported buried under the rubble in the town.

The quake, which struck the Simav town at 11:15 p.m. (2015 GMT), killed two people and injured 79 others, while bringing down many buildings in the region, authorities said Friday.

People living in surrounding provinces such as Istanbul, Izmir, Bursa and Edirne also felt tremors.

An 18-year-old boy died as a concrete pillar fell on his head when he jumped out of a window in panic, and a 62-year-old man, who had heart surgery a few days ago, died due to heart failure during the quake, Turkey's Environment Minister Veysel Eroglu told reporters on Friday.

One of the injured people was in critical conditions, Eroglu said.

Bad construction was to blame for the collapse of some buildings in the quake-affected area, said the minister.

Simav was located in a first-degree quake zone and earthquakes were expected in the region all the time, Prof. Mustafa Erdik, the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory's head official told semi- official Anatolia news agency.

Nearly 50 aftershocks took place in Kutahya since Thursday night, including a 4.6-magnitude quake at round 11:25 p.m. (2025 GMT), Erdik added.

Minor aftershocks have continued throughout Friday, keeping terrified residents out of their homes, local NTV news channel reported.

Live TV pictures showed people screamed and ran away from the Kutahya city's bus terminal building during an aftershock on Friday.

"The quake was so strong that we could not even move in the first few seconds," Idris Bal, a local law maker in Kutahya told NTV Thursday night.

Many residents in Kutahya province spent the night on the streets or in their cars, local media reported. Electricity and telephone lines were cut off Thursday night, making it difficult to communicate with the region.

Meanwhile, there were fears over the safety of a silver mining and refining facility in the Kutahya province. Damages were reported in one of the embankments of a tailings dam of the facility several days before the quake, raising risks of a cyanide spill.

Environment Minister Eroglu said Friday there was no cyanide leak from the dam and that all necessary precautions had been taken.

Source: Xinhua

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"The situation was checked again after the earthquake and there was no danger at the moment," he said.

Turkey is earthquake-prone country being crossed by several geological fault lines. More than 1,000 people were killed at an earthquake in Kutahya province in 1970.

In 1999, more than 18,000 people were killed in two devastating earthquakes in the country.


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