Quake in Turkey kills 51
Published 09/03/2010 | 05:00
Dozens of people were killed when an earthquake hit villages in eastern Turkey just before dawn yesterday.
It caught many as they slept, crumpling buildings into piles of rubble. Panicked survivors fled into the streets as more than 50 aftershocks rattled the region.
The 6.0-magnitude quake hit at 4.32am local time near the village of Basyurt about 550km east of the capital Ankara.
The government put the death toll at 51, with more than 30 injured.
The worst hit area was the village of Okcular where 17 people were killed. As relatives rushed in for news of their loved ones, authorities blocked off the area so ambulances and rescue teams could manoeuvre on the village's narrow roads. Residents lit fires to keep warm in the winter cold.
"The village is totally flattened," village administrator Hasan Demirdag said.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged residents not to enter any damaged homes, warning they could topple from aftershocks that could last for days.