Strong Earthquake Hits Eastern Turkey

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A strong earthquake has struck eastern Turkey, killing at least 51 people, officials have said.

A strong earthquake has struck eastern Turkey, killing at least 51 people, officials have said.

The 6.0-magnitude quake, centred on the village of Basyurt in Elazig province, struck at 0432 (0232 GMT). It has been followed by more than 30 aftershocks.

Elazig Governor Muammer Erol said the majority of deaths had occurred in the nearby villages of Okcular, Yukari Kanatli and Kayali.

Rescue teams have been deployed to find survivors trapped under rubble.

Mr Erol said many people in the affected villages lived in mud-brick homes built on hillsides, which were especially prone to collapse.

"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," he told CNN Turk television.
At least 17 of the dead came from the largest village, Okcular, where up to 30 houses collapsed, rescuers said.

"The village is totally flattened," Okcular's administrator, Hasan Demirdag, told NTV.

Television footage from Okcular showed rescue workers and soldiers digging among the rubble of collapsed buildings as villagers looked on.

Ali Riza Ferhat, a resident of Okcular, said he had been asleep when the earthquake struck.

"I tried to get out of the door but it wouldn't open. I came out of the window and started helping my neighbours," he told NTV. "We removed six bodies."

Yadin Apaydin, the administrator for Yukari Kanatli, also said his village had been devastated.

"Everything has been knocked down - there is not a stone in place," he told CNN Turk.

At least 100 people have been taken to hospital, officials say. Some were reportedly hurt during the panic after the first earthquake, when they jumped from windows or balconies.
Residents of the affected villages have been warned not to return to damaged homes while the area continues to be hit by aftershocks, the strongest of which has so far measured 5.5.

The government disaster management centre and Turkish Red Crescent have already sent blankets and tents to the area to provide emergency shelter for survivors in the harsh weather weather.

Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek and three other ministers are also travelling to the earthquake zone to provide assistance.

Turkey is plagued by earthquakes - generally minor - because of its location on the North Anatolian fault line.

A 7.4-magnitude tremor which hit the western city of Izmit in August 1999 killed more than 17,000 people.

The BBC's Jonathan Head in Istanbul says poor quality buildings were also blamed for the high death toll then and there is still concern in Turkey's largest city, where seismologists predict a major earthquake will occur within the next few decades.

Source : bbc