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5.9-magnitude quake kills two in Turkey: minister

20 may 2011, 13:40
Residents spend the night in the streets following an earthquake in the town of Simav, Turkey. Reuters©
Residents spend the night in the streets following an earthquake in the town of Simav, Turkey. Reuters©
An earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale that hit northwest Turkey late Thursday killed two people and injured 79, AFP reports, citing the Turkish environment minister.

"An 18 year-old man died as a concrete pillar fell on his head, while a 62-year-old man, who had had heart surgery couple of days ago, died (due to heart failure)," said environment minister Veysel Eroglu.

Of 79 people injured, one is in critical condition, Eroglu said on television at the scene, adding that the quake caused damage to many houses.

The epicentre of the quake, which struck around 2015 GMT, was at Simav in Kutahya province about 310 kilometres (190 miles) west of the capital Ankara, Anatolia news agency said, citing the Kandilli seismological institute in Istanbul.

The quake was also felt in the neighbouring provinces and as far as Istanbul, Anatolia said.

The Turkish Red Crescent sent food and 10,000 blankets to the region, and will erect 5,000 tents in Simav by Saturday morning, an official from the organization told NTV news channel.

Anatolia reported Thursday night that a derelict building collapsed in Simav, a town of around 100,000 inhabitants, that comes under Kutahya province administratively.

Turkish television channels said residents of the quake-hit region panicked, rushing out into the streets, and telephone lines were jammed making it difficult to contact the area for more information.

Several aftershocks continued to shake the region Friday morning.

"It was quite violent. We immediately went out into the streets," Ihsan Tuncoglu, chairman of the journalists' union in Kutahya, told NTV.

A 5.9-magnitude quake is normally considered moderate but can cause damage in Turkey due to substandard home construction.

Turkey is earthquake-prone due to being crossed by several geological fault lines.

An earthquake in Kutahya province in 1970 killed more than 1,000 people.

In 1999, two strong quakes in the heavily populated and industrialised regions of northwest Turkey left some 20,000 dead.

Experts say the Istanbul region is threatened by a strong quake.

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