Friday, 20 May 2011

Earthquake hits western Turkey; 2 dead

ANKARA, Turkey – A 5.9-magnitude earthquake rocked western Turkey on Thursday, shattering windows, damaging old buildings in one town and killing two people, authorities said.

The Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory said the quake in Kutahya province occurred at 23:15 p.m. (2015 GMT) and was centered in the town of Simav.

Gov. Kenan Ciftci of Kutahya province told TV24 that one person died in Simav after jumping out of window in panic. Ciftci, however, said there was no reports of serious damage. An elderly woman also died of an heart attack in another town, NTV television said.

About two-dozen people have been injured, mostly suffering from injuries from broken glass or jumping off of balconies, according to TV news reports.

The quake was followed by about 50 aftershocks, the strongest with a preliminary magnitude of 4.6 shook Kutahya, said Mustafa Erdik, head of the Kandilli Observatory. He warned of more aftershocks in the coming days.

Most of the town of Simav was without electricity and telephone lines were down, reports said. At least one empty building collapsed in Simav and some other old buildings were also slightly damaged, said the Anatolia news agency.

Idris Bal, a lawmaker who was in Kutahya, said he experienced the quake at the fifth floor of an apartment building.

"It was so strong that we could not even move in the first few seconds," Bal told NTV television. "People are waiting in their cars now."

The quake was felt as far as the Aegean city of Izmir, northwestern city of Bursa, Istanbul and the city of Edirne, close to the Greek and Bulgarian borders.

Earthquakes are frequent in Turkey, which is crossed by fault lines.

In March 2010, a 6.0-magnitude quake knocked down houses in five villages in eastern Turkey, killing 51 people. In 2003, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake killed 177 people in the southeastern city of Bingol, including 84 children whose school dormitory collapsed.

In 1999, two earthquakes with a magnitude of more than 7 struck northwestern Turkey, killing about 18,000 people.