Turkey trembler opens old wounds

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | February 6, 2002

As central Turkey cleaned up Tuesday after a 6.0 earthquake hit the central region Sunday, many shaken residents can't help but remember 1999's massive temblor that killed 18,000 people.

Sunday's quake toppled about 150 buildings, killed 45 people, and injured 150. At least 25 people sustained their injuries jumping from windows and balconies, afraid their building would collapse. And as dozens of aftershocks as strong as 5.3 magnitude rocked the region, hundreds of people were afraid to return to their homes. Many were warned to stay away from their homes until they could be inspected for safety.

Hundreds spent the night outdoors in freezing temperatures. The Turkish government set up tent cities to shelter displaced people.

The United Church of Christ American Board for World Mission was offering post-traumatic stress counseling. American Board personnel reported that the quake on one hand opened old wounds but on the other raised awareness of earthquake preparedness.

The American Board is planning to create a regional center for disaster preparedness.

Most shops and businesses in central Turkey, a poppy-growing region, were closed Sunday when the quake hit. The temblor's timing helped avert a major disaster, according to Turkey's government officials. The most seriously damaged buildings were shops and state offices.

The quake's epicenter was in Sultandagi, a town some 125 miles south of Turkey's capital of Ankara. The temblor, which struck at about 9 a.m., was felt up to 200 miles away.

The Turkish government reported it did not expect the death toll to climb much beyond 45 people.

Meanwhile two earthquakes hit Armenia in 24 hours, the first striking early Monday near the northern town of Ashotsk, and the second hitting late Monday night near the border with Turkey.

No casualties or damages were immediately reported, and seismologists were estimating the magnitude of the first was between 5.0 and 6.0, with the second at about 4.0.

Armenians have also seen earthquake caused devastation in the past. In 1988, a severe quake killed some 25,000 people and left more than 700,000 homeless.

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