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Tuesday, 6 June, 2000, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Quake shakes Turkey
earthquake victim
Wooden structures kept casualties relatively low
An earthquake has shaken a rural area of central Turkey, killing at least three people, injuring dozens and causing panic in the capital, Ankara.

The quake - measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale - struck at 0540 (0240 GMT) on Tuesday.

Turkey map
Many Ankara residents rushed out into the streets
Its epicentre was the town of Cerkes, in Cankiri province, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of the capital.

The government, severely criticised for its slow response to two devastating earthquakes last year, has quickly sent helicopters to assess the damage and set up crisis centres to co-ordinate assistance for the victims.

Prompt reaction

Two civil defence units and a medical team from Turkey's Red Crescent have been sent to the area, equipped with blankets, tents and mobile kitchens.

"A loud noise woke us up and we rushed to the street"

Zeynep Gokmen, survivor
Schools were closed for the day, and police warned people not to return to their homes.

Speaking on state television, Ankara governor Yahya Gul said a boy had been killed when a three-storey building collapsed outside Ankara.

Four other members of the family were also injured.

In Cerkes itself, one person was killed and many were injured after jumping out of windows or off balconies in terror. At least 30 more were injured in Orta, one of the hardest-hit towns.

"I had the shock of my life. It was horrible," said Seyit Cambaz, an Orta resident.

mother in village hit by earthquake
Villagers feared to return indoors again

Another man, whose home was split from top to bottom by three cracks, said: "I was in the loft when the quake struck. I don't know how I got out alive."

Two men were also injured in a suburb of the capital when a gas pipeline exploded, and Guldurcek dam, which was slightly damaged, was being drained of water and inspected.

The earthquake, which was felt in several provinces and along the Black Sea coast, lasted about 30 seconds, but was followed by about nine aftershocks.

In Ankara, where the tremor was strong enough to shake walls, hundreds of people rushed out of their houses into the streets.

Low-rise homes

Nearer the epicentre, many villagers gathered in public squares after spending the night outside in makeshift tents.

A dead body is taken away from the village of  Orta Karga
A dead body is taken away from the village of Orta Karga

A civil defence spokesman said that there had been relatively few casualties because many of the houses affected were adobe homes or two-storey wooden structures, unlike the thousands of modern blocks that collapsed in western Turkey last year.

Two powerful earthquakes struck the region in August and November, killing more than 18,000 people.

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See also:

14 Sep 99 | Europe
Panic as quake hits Turkey
06 Oct 99 | Europe
Quake hits southern Turkey
11 Nov 99 | Europe
Quake shakes northwest Turkey
05 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
The Earth's Ring of Fire
02 Mar 00 | Europe
Turkey plans quake zone N-plant
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