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Turkish earthquake
Turkish earthquake

Date: 17 August 1999, Izmit
Dead: 18,000
Affected: 100,000
Damage: $5bn

What happened: The quake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, struck while most people were asleep.

Response: There were immediate offers of international assistance. Search teams were dispatched within hours from Greece. Russia, Japan, Israel and many European countries also offered experts. The US sent three naval ships with medical facilities on board and 26 helicopters.

However, it took three days for Turkey’s own emergency teams to reach the worst hit areas.

Verdict: Although Turkey lies on a fault line the government had no earthquake emergency plan. The army was accused of focusing too much on searching for survivors of a destroyed naval base. The international response was praised by locals as rapid and effective.

Media coverage: Immediate television footage showed victims being pulled out of the rubble by rescuers scraping at debris with their bare hands. Residents e-mailed news services to describe what was happening.