By Mehmet Guzel And Suzan Fraser
A magnitude-5.9 earthquake hit a town in northwestern Turkey early Wednesday, causing damage to some buildings and widespread panic. At least 68 people were injured, mostly while trying to flee homes.
The earthquake was centred in the town of Golkaya, in Duzce province, some 200 kilometres east of Istanbul, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency said.
It struck at 4:08 a.m. (0108 GMT) and was felt in Istanbul, in the capital Ankara and other parts of the region. Dozens of aftershocks were reported, including one with a magnitude of 4.3.
The quake woke people from their sleep and many rushed out of buildings in panic in the province that experienced a deadly earthquake 23 years ago.
At least 68 people were treated in hospitals for injuries in Duzce and nearby regions, mostly sustained during the panic, including from jumping from balconies or windows. A 28-year-old Afghan was in serious condition after suffering a brain hemorrhage, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
Schools in the region were closed as a precaution.
“Although the earthquake caused damage to many buildings in Golkaya, fortunately, we did not experience any serious destruction or loss,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an address to his ruling party’s legislators.
The quake demolished the exterior cladding and parts of the roof of a courthouse in Duzce, HaberTurk television reported. Among other damage, a two-storey shop collapsed on a narrow street, it said. A mosque in the village of Saridere, near the epicenter, also sustained damage and was closed down, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
In Saridere, people gathered in streets, lighting fires to keep warm while others slept in their cars, the private DHA agency reported. The Turkish Red Crescent organization distributed blankets and soup.
“I was woken up by a jolt and fell out of bed,” DHA quoted Saridere resident Recep Dogan as saying. “I crouched (for safety), but when the earthquake continued, I threw myself out of the door.”
Around 800 people were killed in a powerful earthquake that hit Duzce on Nov. 12, 1999. In August of that year, 17,000 people were killed by another powerful temblor that devastated nearby Kocaeli province and other parts of northwest Turkey.
Officials said around 80 per cent of the buildings in the area were rebuilt or fortified following the 1999 earthquakes, which helped minimize damage.
Turkey sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes.
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