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Thursday, August 26, 1999 Published at 05:37 GMT 06:37 UK

World: Europe

Quake aid effort intensifies

Seeking shelter: Turkey has pledged temporary homes for all victims

An international aid race to bring shelter to the 200,000 survivors of the Turkish earthquake is gathering momentum as the country's government launches a massive appeal for everything from tents to bulldozers.

Turkey Earthquake
With up to 30,000 bodies still buried under tonnes of rubble, Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit pledged that all those left homeless by the disaster would have some temporary form of shelter within a month.

Aid agencies and governments have reacted swiftly.

At least 20 aircraft carrying supplies of tents, blankets, food and medicine have already landed at Istanbul and more are expected in the coming days.

The BBC's Paul Adams reports: "Faced with new challenges the international response is changing gear"
The Netherlands has pledged to send 30,000 prefabricated homes while the United States has already sent 30,000 blankets and is preparing to fly in 3,500 all-weather tents.

Ankara says it needs more similar offers if it is to provide adequate shelter before heavy rains due in November.

(Click here to see a map of where the earthquake struck)

[ image:  ]
The aid effort began gathering pace as Turkish authorities revised down the number of known dead to 12,514.

While one four-year-old boy was pulled alive from the rubble on Monday, hope of finding any more survivors has evaporated.

Turkey has asked the United Nations to supply 45,000 body bags as the grim task of clearing the rubble continues.

The BBC's James Coomarasamy reports on the aid effort
The United Nations Children's Fund, Unicef, has sent 27 tonnes of aid and psychologists to Turkey to offer counselling to children who have lost parents or relatives in the disaster.

Health fears

However, as 200,000 people continue to live outdoors, concern remains high for an outbreak of disease as the muddy conditions make it impossible to ensure adequate levels of sanitation.

[ image: Grim task: Authorities expect to find 30,000 more bodies]
Grim task: Authorities expect to find 30,000 more bodies
The British Red Cross has launched a nationwide appeal to raise funds to avert disease.

"The major concern at the moment is to avert a public health crisis which could be caused by a combination of the hot weather, recent heavy rains, decomposing bodies and broken sewerage systems," said David Alexander of the British Red Cross.

But Dr Michel Thieren of the World Health Organisation said that the real threat remained poor sanitation and contaminated water rather than unburied corpses.

The BBC's Angus Roxburgh reports: "When there's so little left, every last possession counts"
Health workers warned that potential killers such as typhoid fever and dysentery could flare in the squalid camps as families rely on contaminated water supplies, though Turkish health ministry officials have stated that plans to minimise the spread of infectious diseases are well organised.

PM hits back

Mr Ecevit has defended his government's handling of the earthquake.

[ image:  ]
In an interview with CNN, he said that both the government and the military were doing their very best.

But he also blamed the destruction of north-west Turkey's communications links for the shortcomings in his government's response in the days following the earthquake.

The government has also announced that it is temporarily closing down the Channel Six television station because of its "provocative" coverage of the earthquake.

[ image:  ]

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Internet Links

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