Middle East

Authorities set up shelters for Turkey quake victims

ANKARA: Turkish rescue workers and soldiers scrambled Friday to set up tents to shelter hundreds of people left homeless after a 5.9-magnitude earthquake damaged buildings in western Turkey, killing at least three people.

No one was reported buried under the rubble in the town of Simav, the epicenter of the quake, but one man died after jumping out of a window in panic while an 18-year-old high school student was killed when he was hit by a falling piece of stone as he stood outside his home, the Anatolia news agency said.

An elderly woman died of a heart attack in another town, Inegol, shortly after the earthquake rocked the region late Thursday.

The earthquake was felt hundreds of kilometers away and injured about 125 people, including some who suffered injuries after jumping from balconies or windows, authorities said.

The Red Crescent set up soup kitchens to feed thousands of people who spent the night in their cars or in the streets of Simav, said Tekin Kucukali, head of the organization.

Turkish soldiers were helping rescue workers to set up a small tent city to provide temporary shelter to the homeless. The Red Crescent dispatched more than 2,000 tents and 10,000 blankets to the area as well as food and drinking water.

Environment Minister Veysel Eroglu blamed shoddy construction for the partial collapse of some buildings in the area.

The quake cracked many buildings, including hostels, sending terrified residents into the streets and triggering an exodus by university students.

Live coverage by NTV television Friday showed students screaming and running away from a building at the city’s bus terminal as an aftershock – the latest of hundreds – jolted the area.

Bilgin Turkmentepe, a member of the search and rescue group Akut, said some elderly people did not notice the cracks at one mosque at dawn and only left morning prayers after warnings.

Authorities had cut power supply to the town to prevent fires. 

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 21, 2011, on page 9.

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