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At least 45 Dead in Turkey Earthquake - 2002-02-03


At least 45 people have been killed and more than 150 others injured by an earthquake that shook central Turkey.

Turkish officials say the epicenter of the magnitude 6.0 quake was the town of Bolvadin, about 190 kilometers east of Istanbul. The city is home to about 40,000 people.

The tremor is believed to have had the worst impact on the village of Sultandagi, where at least 15 villagers are reported to have died.

Thousands of rescue workers accompanied by sniffer dogs have been rushed to the quake zone as panicked survivors continue to flee in fear of aftershocks. The tremor was felt as far east as the capital, Ankara, and the central Anatolian province of Konya.

Turkish officials say they fear the death toll may rise as some residents remain trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings across Afyon province, where Bolvadin lies.

Damage was also reported in the city of Afyon, but there was no immediate word of casualties there. Most of the collapsed building were shops and offices.

Public Works Minister Abdulkadir Akcan said the death toll could have been much worse had the earthquake struck during a working day.

Turkey lies atop a major fault line, and in 1999 the country was struck by two devastating earthquakes that claimed more than 20,000 lives.

Rescue workers and aid poured in from across the world at the time, including from Turkey's long-time enemy and neighbor, Greece. Today, Greek authorities offered to send in rescue workers again, in a further sign of improving relations between the two countries.

Unlike in previous quakes, Turkish authorities appear to be firmly in control in this latest disaster. Thousands of tents and blankets were delivered to the disaster zone only hours after the quake struck, and Turkish troops are helping erect makeshift shelter for residents left homeless by the quake.

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