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Monday, 4 February, 2002, 05:04 GMT
Aftershocks rattle Turkey quake victims
Residents of the town of Sultandagi left homeless
Fires were lit to keep those left homeless warm
Hundreds of people in western Turkey have spent a cold night outdoors after a strong earthquake struck their area, killing at least 42 people.

The quake, registering 6.0 on the Richter scale, centred on the town of Bolvadin in Afyon province, and was felt as far away as Istanbul, 500 kilometres (300 miles) to the north-west.

Dozens of aftershocks, the strongest with a magnitude of 5.3, continued to rattle the area as the night time temperature fell to around minus 5C (23 Fahrenheit).

"We've lit a fire, we're going to sleep in the street," said a 60-year-old woman, Rukiye Gokyuz.

There was widespread panic as the quake hit, and some people threw themselves from windows and balconies.

Television reports say that at least 150 people have been injured and a number of buildings have collapsed, trapping those inside.

Ahmet Mete Isikara, head of the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory, said that eight aftershocks followed the initial quake, the strongest measuring 5.3.

Warnings broadcast

The Sultandagi and Cay districts of Afyon were reported to have been among the worst hit areas.

Tonight it is important that our citizens do not go back into their homes in areas that are not very safe

Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit
Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit travelled to Sultandagi to inspect the damage.

The Mayor of Afyon, Hayrettin Barut, said rescue workers were trying to reach eight people buried under a collapsed house.

The minarets of four mosques are said to have collapsed.

Authorities in Bolvadin broadcast warnings to residents over loudspeakers, urging them to stay out of damaged buildings.

A local hospital took patients into the garden in case of any aftershocks.

The earthquake struck at about 0911 (0711 GMT) on Sunday.

In the province of Konya, one person was reported to have died of a heart attack and seven people were injured jumping from windows and balconies.

Tents sent out

The Turkish Government, which was criticised for reacting too slowly after devastating quakes in 1999, quickly set up a crisis management centre in its foreign ministry.

Public Works Minister Abdulkadir Akcan said the government was sending 3,000 blankets and 1,000 tents to the region.

Damage caused by a quake in Duzce in November 1999
Turkey has a history of devastating earthquakes
But he said the loss of life could have been much worse.

"Because today is Sunday and shops are closed, a huge disaster was prevented."

Greece, which historically has tense relations with Turkey, immediately offered to send rescue workers.

The Athens government also sent help when earthquakes struck western Turkey in 1999, killing about 18,000 people.

Most of the country lies on the North Anatolian fault and minor earthquakes occur frequently.

The BBC's Jonny Dymond
"It could have been so much worse"
Ismail Cem Turkey's Minister for Foreign Affairs
"Things seem to be under control"

Survivors survey a collapsed building in the town of CayTurkish quake
Send us your experiences of what happened
See also:

27 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
Istanbul quake likely by 2030
17 Aug 00 | Europe
Turks remember quake victims
02 Mar 00 | Europe
Turkey plans quake zone N-plant
13 Aug 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Turkey
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