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Turkey Quake Kills 320

November 13, 1999

DUZCE, Turkey (AP) _ After working through the night with floodlights, rescue teams searched in the rubble in northwestern Turkey today for survivors of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the region the night before.

At least 320 people were killed, a government official said.

The first rays of sunlight eased the rescuers’ work but also laid bare the extent of the damage caused by the quake, which struck just after nightfall Friday and was centered in Duzce, near the area wrecked by a major temblor in August.

Houses were reduced to tangled wreckage, large buildings tilted ominously and a section of highway was shorn off a hillside. Firefighters put out blazes, troops unloaded medical supplies and workers used jackhammers to strip away rubble in search of survivors.

The death toll was expected to continue rising. Health Ministry Undersecretary Haluk Tokucoglu, speaking on state-run television, put the toll at 320, with nearly 1,800 injured. Another official said at least 300 buildings were destroyed.

Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, speaking on national television from Ankara, promised a full response from the government and military.

``The state is there with all its means,″ he said.

Several people were rescued alive, including a little girl pulled from the rubble after being trapped under a building for 12 hours. Rescuers also extracted two men from a collapsed restaurant.

The quake could be felt in Istanbul, 90 miles to the west, where world leaders are scheduled to convene next week for a regional security summit. Officials said there were no plans to change the meetings.

In the town of Duzce, hundreds of people huddled around fires of wood and old tires in a park as temperatures fell to 37 degrees. A thick layer of smoke from fires hung over the city. The government cut electricity to all buildings except hospitals, to reduce the risk of sparks that could ignite more blazes.

The quake was the latest shock to the people of Bolu province, about 45 miles east of the region hardest hit by the massive Aug. 17 temblor that killed more than 17,000 people. More than 100,000 people still live in tents there.

In Duzce (pronounced ``dooz-jeh″), military helicopters flew in to transfer badly wounded patients to hospitals in the Turkish capital of Ankara. International rescue teams rushed to Turkey from Greece, the United States, France, Germany and Italy.

Duzce’s hospital was evacuated after the quake, forcing doctors to set up small surgery units in the garden. Patients sat shivering and wrapped in the blankets, and people asked whether their relatives had been brought in.

At the hospital, Ali Ates’ eyes filled with tears as he asked a police officer if his son’s name appeared on the list of deceased. Told it did not, he said: ``We have been looking for him everywhere since the quake.″

The quake struck around dinner time. Hatice Gusdil said her husband, Hakki, and their 14-year-old son, Cumhur, were killed when their single-story house collapsed.

``We were having dinner and before we knew what was happening the ceiling fell on us,″ Gusdil said as she lay on a stretcher and wept. ``I fainted and only came to when they pulled me out.″

Hikmet Dorsun was crossing a highway to attend a friend’s funeral when the earth began to shake and his apartment building collapsed.

``I turned around and all I saw was dust and my daughter running out″ of his apartment, he said.

Elsewhere, a bus carrying 30 people was crushed when a building collapsed onto it. Rescue workers were able to pull 10 people out, and were working to save the other 20.

Just one day before Friday’s quake, a smaller earthquake of magnitude 5.7 shook the nearby town of Adapazari. That quake knocked out phone and power lines but did not cause damage to buildings. Two people were killed _ one by a heart attack and one from jumping out of a window in panic _ and another 171 were injured.

The quakes struck just days before the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s annual meeting in Istanbul scheduled for Nov. 18-19. In advance of the meeting, President Clinton was expected to arrive in Turkey Sunday to visit the city of Izmit, which was severely damaged by the August quake.

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