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Quake Shakes Central Turkey

December 16, 2000

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ An earthquake rocked central Turkey on Friday, starting a fire that killed five people. Dozens were injured when they threw themselves from windows and balconies in panic, officials said.

The quake toppled a spire on a mosque, sparking the blaze that claimed five lives in the village of Yasarlar in Konya province, provincial Gov. Ahmet Kayhan said.

The mosque was packed with men gathered for evening prayers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and it wasn’t clear if there were injured.

The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 5.8, the Istanbul-based Kandilli observatory and the U.S. Geological Survey said. Quakes of that strength can cause considerable damage in populated areas.

The temblor was centered between the towns of Ilgin and Bolvadin in Afyon province, 160 miles southwest of Ankara.

The quake badly frightened residents, who recalled earthquakes that devastated northwestern Turkey a year ago, killing 18,000 people.

Kayhan said 41 people were hurt in Ilgin and nearby Akeshir when they jumped from buildings for fear of being trapped. Six people were treated for shock, he added. A spire on a mosque in Ilgin crumbled.

The quake toppled three houses and knocked down utility poles, causing blackouts. It broke open cracks in several buildings, including the state hospital of Bolvadin.

Kayhan said relief workers were distributing blankets for residents afraid to return to their homes.

Authorities were trying to calm panicked people in loudspeaker announcements, the Anatolia news agency said.

Friday’s quake was also felt in neighboring provinces of Isparta, Antalya, Burdur, Kayseri and Ankara. People trying to reach their relatives jammed telephone lines.

Update hourly