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Turkey quake death toll rises

ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- A strong earthquake that hit central Turkey on Sunday is known to have claimed the lives of at least 42 people and injured 120 others.

Another 11 are trapped under collapsed buildings, officials said.

Local seismologists measured the magnitude at 6.0, while the U.S. Geological Survey said it registered 6.2.

The quake happened at 9:15 a.m. local time (0815 GMT) and was centered in Bolvadin, in the province of Afyon.

Seventy-seven structures collapsed in the towns of Sultandagi and the effects were felt as far away as Ankara.

Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit is visiting the disaster area and the provincial governor said he had established a crisis desk to manage the situation.

The Bolvadin area lies on one of Turkey's fault lines. There was a light earthquake in the same area in 1995.

"Because today is Sunday and shops are closed, a huge disaster was avoided," Public Works Minister Abdulkadir Akcan told The Associated Press.

Two massive earthquakes that killed 18,000 people in Turkey in 1999.

Turkey lies on the North Anatolian fault, and the nation constantly fears another devastating earthquake.

Officials at the crisis centre in Ankara said they were sending civil defence teams to the quake area, where hospitals set up makeshift treatment areas in the open air.

The government -- accused in the past of reacting too slowly to natural disasters -- sent 3,000 blankets and 1,000 tents to the region, and troops set up tent cities to house those made homeless, private NTV television reported.

Forecasters said temperatures would probably drop below freezing overnight.

Ecevit appeared on national television to warn residents to stay away from damaged homes and then set off for the region to evaluate the situation.

Authorities in Bolvadin broadcast warnings over loudspeakers, urging residents to stay out of damaged buildings. At a hospital, doctors, expecting aftershocks, rushed patients into the garden.

Families tried desperately to contact relatives, jamming telephone service in the province of Afyon.

Many locals were too nervous to return to cracked and damaged buildings and preferred to wait outside in bright winter sunshine.

-- CNN Producer Elif Unal contributed to this report



 
 
 
 


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