WHO monitoring situation in earthquake-hit area in Turkey

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The WHO Regional Office for Europe and the WHO Country Office in Turkey have been closely monitoring the situation in Elazig province in eastern Turkey, where a 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck on 8 March 2010 at 04:32 am local time (02:32 GMT). Over 50 people were killed and many dozens were injured.

The WHO Regional Director for Europe, Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, sent a letter to the Minister of Health of Turkey Professor Recep Akda=F0, expressing sympathy to the victims' families and offering support to the Ministry of Health.

During meetings between WHO Country Office staff and the Ministry of Health in the morning of 8 March, it was confirmed that the earthquake had totally or partially destroyed five villages. The ministry had sent 95 ambulances and about 300 health and rescue staff to the affected area. Soon after the earthquake, a Turkish Red Crescent team had reached the area and set up a crisis centre.

All injured people had been transferred to the Firat University hospital and to the three State hospitals located in Kovancilar and Elazig. According to the Ministry of Health, none of the hospitals had suffered any damage. All hospitals are therefore fully functional and capable to cope with the number of injured.

In agreement and close coordination with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education at national and local levels, country-based staff of WHO and UNICEF staff are scheduled to visit the affected area starting 9 March 2010 in order to directly assess the situation and to identify immediate needs.

There has been no request for international assistance from the Government of Turkey, and the situation is considered to be under full control of the local and national authorities.

The affected area is a sparsely-populated region of high steppe in Eastern Anatolia, where mud-brick houses are common. The earthquake was followed by some 40 aftershocks in the following hours.