Turks bury dead, search for quake survivors

Report
from Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
Published on 14 Nov 1999
By Osman Senkul

DUZCE, Turkey, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Turks buried their earthquake dead in line with Moslem rituals on Sunday as rescue workers scoured shattered buildings in a race against time to find survivors. A woman was pulled from the rubble, more than 40 hours after being trapped in her home when it was brought down around her by the quake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale in northwestern Bolu province late on Friday.

Turkish, Algerian and Russian rescue workers cheered as Saziye Bulut was plucked from the wreckage of her kitchen where she had gone to make tea.

Victims Buried

But elsewhere, relatives and officials began the sombre task of laying to rest the victims of the quake. On a foggy, frosty hillside above the devastated town of Kaynasli, mourners wailed and sang verses from the Koran surrounded by some 60 freshly dug graves.

"That can't be my son lying there. He always said we would be fine if there was an earthquake here," a distraught father said.

Another mourner said he did not know how he had escaped from a coffee house where 20 people -- some of them being buried as he spoke -- died.

Government officials estimate the number of dead from Friday's quake to be at least 374, but the toll seems destined to rise as rescuers comb a landscape of crumbled concrete and twisted metal.

The rescuers were hampered overnight by freezing weather and rocked by a series of aftershocks that coursed through the region. But by midday on Sunday the sun had cut through the fog and temperatures were rising.

In a replay of a devastating quake that hit neighbouring Izmit region, killing 17,000 in August, foreign aid and rescue teams have been pouring in. Among the latest was a 100-strong team from Israel, Turkey's unofficial ally, which was to set up a military field hospital in Duzce.

Another team with sniffer dogs flew in from Washington, D.C. It was the second American aid group to arrive.

Greece has also rushed rescuers and aid to Turkey, true to a new spirit of neighbourly help that has emerged between the two NATO allies after centuries of hatred.

Cost and response

Transport Minister Enis Oksuz said on Saturday the tremor could cost Turkey's fragile economy $10 billion -- on top of an estimated $12 billion from an August 17 quake in the nearby Izmit region.

But Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's government, berated by the media and public for reacting slowly to the August quake, was getting a better press this time.

"The Resurrection of the State," heralded the mainstream daily Sabah. "The state was paralysed on August 17, but this time it took control within an hour."

Despite the quake, organisers said a summit of 54 leaders, including U.S. President Bill Clinton, scheduled for Istanbul on November 18-19 would go ahead.

Clinton was due in Ankara on late Sunday. His wife Hillary Rodham Clinton and daughter Chelsea arrived on Saturday.
Hillary Clinton was keeping a low profile and no official engagements had been announced.

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