Turkey pledges swift reconstruction after quake

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ankara - Turkey has pledged efforts to build stronger houses in immediate reconstruction after 51 people had been confirmed dead in the 6.0 magnitude quake that hit the east of the country on Monday.

Thirty-four people were being treated at several hospitals around the Karakocan town of the eastern Elazig province, the epicenter of the earthquake, the Elazig governor's office said.

Rescue efforts ended on Monday afternoon as there were no more people trapped under rubble.

The quake struck Basyurt region of Karakocan town at a depth of 5 km at 4:32 am local time (0232 GMT), said the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute of Turkey's Bogazici University.

Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News earlier put the death toll of the quake at 5.7, quoting Karakocan mayor.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a message of support from the capital Ankara and expressed sorrow over the casualties.

Erdogan urged local officials to change the architectural structure in the quake-hit region, where most houses are made of sun-dried bricks.

Ambulance helicopters were sent to the quake zone, while the Turkish Red Crescent had dispatched experienced personnel and relief materials to the area, including 230 tents, 1 000 blankets and 20 prefabricated houses, the prime minister was quoted as saying.

He also warned people not to stay in damaged buildings, according to Hurriyet Daily News.

Altogether 27 aftershocks were reported after the quake and more are expected over the next hours and days.

With much of its territories lying atop the North Anatolian fault, Turkey is a quake-prone country. In 1999, more than 18 000 people were killed in two devastating earthquakes in the country.