Earthquake in Turkey: Naval commander second UK victim

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THE SECOND British victim of the Turkish earthquake was named last night as Lieutenant-Commander Jim Acton. Lt-Cdr Acton was 37, married with two children and based at Portsmouth. He died while being flown back to Britain after he was injured when naval buildings collapsed in Golcuk, the north- western city that was near the epicentre of the quake.

The first British victim, Tom Blackwood, 65, was also found in Golcuk. He had been working for the British company Marconi at the Turkish naval base.

Some 350 British nationals, thought to be living in or visiting Turkey, were unaccounted for last night. Some are thought to be safe but have been unable to telephone relatives.

The Foreign Office said that 265 British nationals had been confirmed safe and well, 85 of whom were in the most damaged areas. They were contacted directly by the British consulate-general in Istanbul. Consular staff have also visited Golcuk, Izmit and Yalova the worst-hit towns.

Sources said they had deliberately not registered the others as missing as it was possible many had gone on holiday and had not realised that frantic relatives could be trying to contact them. Officials have also visited six of the biggest state hospitals in Istanbul, and contacted 42 hospitals by phone, but none has reported any British nationals admitted or injured since the earthquake early on Tuesday.

Although he retired a year ago, Mr Blackwood had continued with his work installing satellite equipment on Turkish navy ships. On this trip - one of many he made to Turkey - he had been away from home for only a few days. He leaves a widow, May, and children, Kelvin and Rachel, thought to be in their 20s, living in London.

Mr Blackwood had pressed on as a contractor because of his dedication to the job, Alistair Scott, communications manager at Mr Blackwood's firm, said. He worked for Marconi for more than 30 years.

"He took full retirement but he was dedicated to his work. He was very popular with his colleagues and with our customers," Mr Scott said. Everyone at Stevenage in Hertfordshire, where he was based, was very saddened by the news, he added.

Mr Blackwood, who arrived in Turkey on 10 August, headed a team that installed satellite communication systems on navy ships around the world.

A spokesman for the London Islamic Turkish Associationsaid: "People have come in asking about their relatives and we have been able to phone our friends in Turkey and try and find out. We have found 12 people so far.

"We have heard that all the British people there on holiday are doing all they can to help. Some of them turned out to be doctors, others engineers and they are helping to search for bodies and advise on how to help our nation." He said the association was trying to organise a mass blood donation in London, which could be flown out to hospitals in Turkey.

British teams of search and rescue workers moved yesterday to where they were needed, as requested by the Turkish authorities.

Twenty-seven firefighters who flew out on Tuesday travelled from Duzce to Sakarya. Thirteen International Rescue Corps volunteers who worked with them remained in Duzce, said a spokeswoman for the Department for International Development. A second team of 32 search and rescue experts who flew from RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire on Wednesday have moved on from Yalova to Golcuk. Both teams have reported successes in finding people alive but only a handful of the many thousands believed to be trapped have been rescued.