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1999: Turkey hit by huge earthquake

VIDEO : A boy spends 110 hours buried under rubble

The most powerful earthquake to hit Turkey has left at least 1,000 people dead.

The earthquake measuring six-point-seven on the Richter scale struck the industrialised town of Izmit in western Turkey at just after 0300 on Tuesday local time.

Many residents of the heavily populated town were asleep in bed and had no chance of escape.

Few of Izmit's buildings were built to withstand earthquakes and whole districts collapsed.

Buildings were also destroyed in Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, about 50 miles (80 km) north west of Izmit.

Parts of the motorway between Ankara and Istanbul buckled, causing cars to crash into each other.


"May God help our country and its people"

Bulent Ecevit, Turkish Prime Minister

Within two hours of the initial earthquake there were 10 powerful aftershocks causing more damage and loss of life.

Rescue teams have found some people alive underneath the rubble but hopes are fading of finding many more.

Desperate relatives have also been digging with basic tools or their bare hands.

Local hospitals have been unable to cope with the flood of injured people.

Turkey's prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, has visited the devastated area and said the earthquake was the worst he had experienced.

Mr Ecevit said "The loss is huge. May God help our country and its people."

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

The death toll as a result of the Izmit quake eventually reached more than 17,000.

Three months later another devastating earthquake hit the same region of Turkey killing at least 550.


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