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Turkey mourns earthquake victims

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Turkey mourns earthquake victims


The grim task of burying the dead has begun in eastern Turkey, just hours after more than 50 people were killed by an earthquake.

Makeshift graves have been hurriedly dug on a hillside in the Basyurt region of Elazig province. The 6.0 magnitude tremor struck in the early hours of Monday. Dozens of people were also injured.

Turkey is criss-crossed with faultlines and earthquakes are frequent. Nearly 20,000 people died in a tremor measuring 7.4 on the Richter Scale in August 1999.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the loss of life was partly due to the fragility of the region’s traditional mud-brick dwellings. He has pledged to rebuild homes using stronger materials.

The rescue operation is continuing, despite repeated aftershocks, some almost as strong as the original quake.

Families are huddling around fires in the open in an attempt to keep warm in the bitter winter cold. They have been warned not to return to their damaged houses.

A Red Crescent team has reached the area and set up a crisis centre, serving food. Helicopters, temporary housing and mobile kitchens are also being sent to the quake-stricken region.

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