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Thousands Camp in Quake-Hit Turkey

June 7, 2000

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Thousands of people left homeless or too frightened to return home after a strong earthquake struck rural central Turkey took shelter in tents or under plastic sheets in streets and parks today, the Anatolia news agency reported.

More aftershocks rattled Cankiri province following the magnitude 5.9 earthquake Tuesday that killed two people, injured more than 80 and collapsed thousands of homes.

The quake was centered on Cerkes, a town in the green hills 100 miles north of Ankara, in Cankiri province.

Some 4,600 homes were destroyed or damaged, most of them made of mud bricks or stones, Cankiri Governor Halil Ulusoy said.

In Orta _ one of the hardest-hit towns _ and surrounding villages, thousands of people were waiting for tents. Too few had reached the area and rain slowed efforts to erect those that were available.

People slept on rugs, sheltering beneath plastic sheets, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

Soldiers and aid teams were setting up 1,500 tents, Ulusoy told NTV newschannel.

``We will receive 2000 tents more today and I hope the problem will be alleviated in a very short time,″ he said.

The two people killed were a beekeeper crushed when the roof and a wall of his home collapsed onto his bed in the village of Orta Karga and a 17-year-old boy who died when a three-story building collapsed in Cubuk, just outside the capital, Ankara.

Many people, recalling the devastating toll of two previous earthquakes, were grateful that few people died.

``Thankfully, this time the death toll is low,″ headlined the Islamic-leaning Akit newspaper.

Villagers said the death toll might have been higher, but many people were either awake and out of their homes at morning Islamic prayers or in the fields tending their sheep when the quake struck at 5:40 a.m. Tuesday.

Cankiri lies close to the North Anatolian Fault, the source of two strong earthquakes that leveled parts of northwestern Turkey in August and November, killing more than 18,000 people and destroying thousands of buildings.

The government, which had been severely criticized for its slow response during those two quakes, was better organized this time. It quickly sent helicopters to assess the damage, set up crisis centers to coordinate rescue operations and dispatched mobile kitchens, medical centers, blankets and tents.

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