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Aid effort mounted for Turkish quake victims

Quake survivors gather around a fire near the ruins of their homes.
Quake survivors gather around a fire near the ruins of their homes.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tents distributed to victims of quake in Turkey that killed 51 people
  • 5.8-magnitude quake struck in country's Kovancilar district
  • Turkey is periodically pummeled by deadly earthquakes
RELATED TOPICS
  • Turkey
  • Earthquakes

Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) -- Disaster officials rushed food and shelter to southeastern Turkey on Tuesday after a strong earthquake rattled the area a day earlier, killing at least 51 people and injuring dozens more.

"We distributed 1,728 tents in the area," said Ayhan Balli, regional director with the Turkish Red Crescent. "There are people who are staying in the tents out of fear that they cannot go into their homes."

The quake struck in Elazig province, with the village of Okcular the worst hit, officials said. Mobile kitchens have been set up to serve about 2,000 people, Balli said.

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The U.S. Geological Survey and the Turkish earthquake monitoring center registered the quake at magnitude 6.0. The USGS had earlier classified the quake at 5.9 magnitude. Dozens of aftershocks, ranging up to 5.5 magnitude, shook the region in the hours after the quake.

"Our teams are in the field determining the damage. We will have some numbers by tomorrow," said Osman Akbulut, the disaster affairs director for the province. "After the damage is determined, we will work with the state mass housing office on providing new homes."

The quake destroyed less than 5 percent of all buildings in the area -- just those made of mud bricks, officials said.

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Monday's quake occurred near the meeting point of two major fault lines, which geologists described as a seismically unstable triangle.

Deadly earthquakes have periodically pummeled Turkey. In 1999, two powerful earthquakes hit heavily populated areas near Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, killing at least 20,000 people.