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Three Dead, About 100 People Reported Buried Under Landslide

June 23, 1988

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Huge landslides roared through eastern Turkey today, crashing into houses, a school, a line of cars and a coffeehouse jammed with people stranded by an earlier slide, authorities said. Up to 100 people were believed buried.

Rescue teams recovered at least three bodies in the rubble, the Anatolia News agency reported.

The dispatch said at least 18 people were injured in the disaster in a mountainous area of Macka township, about 350 miles northeast of Ankara and not far from the Black Sea.

″I saw the mountain coming over me and started running away,″ the news agency quoted a witness, Zeki Ilhan, as saying.

Landslides struck at least three houses, four stores, a restaurant and a high school, according to news agency reports.

The school was in summer recess. But the coffeehouse was packed with at least 30 bus passengers who had been waiting there after the highway was closed by an earlier landslide just after midnight, the reports added.

Deputy Gov. Erkan Isilgan of Trabzon province told The Associated Press by telephone that rescue teams feared the death toll would climb since so many people were missing.

Isilgan said rescuers were trying to find out whether the passengers included any foreign tourists.

Rain hampered rescue operations. Anatolia quoted an official supervising the rescue operation as saying it could take as long as two weeks to clear the debris if rainfall continued.

Public Works Minister Safa Giray, who flew to the site, told Anatolia that rescue teams might recover some people alive. ″That is what we hope,″ he said.

The state radio reported rescue teams were moving slowly to search for victims because of threats of more landslides.

The dispatch said 40 trucks and 20 bulldozers were trying to drive away the mud and stone which covered the site.

Anatolia said the landslides struck along a stretch of road where several cars were waiting in line since just after midnight, when an earlier landslide blocked the highway.

The bus passengers had been waiting in the coffee house after the highway was closed, the reports added. Schools were in recess.

Provincial Gov. Enver Hizlan was quoted as saying the army would be called in to help. The ministers of transportation, interior, public works and energy ministers, flew to Trabzon from Ankara.

Some landslides which have occurred in the area have been blamed on extensive deforestation.

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