Earthquake Kills Dozens In Turkey

At least 51 people died when an earthquake of 6.0 magnitude struck a village and outlying areas near the town of Elazig in eastern Turkey early on Monday, officials in the region said.

The village, Okcular, was largely destroyed, and rescue workers struggled to free a handful of survivors, the officials added. A second quake with a 5.6 magnitude hit the same area after a series of some 40 aftershocks.

According to Turkey’s Kandilli earthquake observatory, the epicenter of the quake, which struck three miles underground at 4:32 a.m. local time, was Basyurt-Karakocan, 61 miles from Elazig, rocking the region for almost a minute.

“Our citizens lost their lives in five villages,” Muammer Erol, the Elazig governor, told NTV, a private news broadcaster. “Rescue teams are working to save four people that are claimed to be stuck under debris.”

Emergency officials in Elazig put the number of injured at 71. More than 30 survivors were treated for injuries in nearby hospitals, according to the governor’s office. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other officials headed to Elazig on Monday to inspect the damage, the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency reported.

Straddling fault lines, Turkey is no stranger to earthquakes, and death tolls are sometimes high as buildings collapse into themselves because of inadequate official controls on construction standards. In Bingol, another eastern town, a quake with a magnitude of 6.7 killed 176 people in May 2003.

Almost 20,000 people died during two earthquakes in the Marmara region in western Turkey in 1999 — the highest death toll in decades.

www.nytimes.com

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