Shaken Turkey is left a nation of broken homes

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The Independent Online
AS RESCUERS dig among the wreckage of Turkey's latest earthquake, survivors are facing desperate conditions in the cold. Thousands of people are sleeping rough, without even a tent, in temperatures as low as -5C.

"With the cold people give up more easily, they do not fight to stay alive," Captain Jean-Marc Castagnet, of a French military rescue team, said yesterday. Survivors say they are too cold to sleep even under three blankets, and the temperature is predicted to plunge further on Tuesday.

In Kaymasli there was a desperate shortage of tents yesterday, and people were contemplating a third night in the open. Residents say that at least 80 per cent of the town's buildings are unsafe after the quake, and with the ground still trembling from aftershocks, nobody is prepared to sleep indoors.

The authorities say they are rushing tents sent to Turkey after August's devastating quake to the new disaster area. The location of the quake zone directly between Turkey's two major cities, Istanbul and Ankara, allowed many rescue workers to arrive quickly. Roads were crowded with trucks bringing in aid, including tents, blankets, food and water. Ambulances zig-zagged in traffic jams, sirens blaring, as they rushed the injured to hospitals.

Rescuers are workingaround the clock in the icy conditions in a desperate effort to free trapped survivors. Saziye Bulut was pulled from a collapsed building in Duzce yesterday after 41 hours under the rubble.

But the ruins are giving up bodies as well. One of Ms Bulut's daughters had already been found dead: rescuers did not break the news while she was trapped for fear that she would give up the will to survive.

The official death toll has moved little since yesterday. It is now at least 370, but no one is any doubt that it will rise as the missing are found. Rescuers admitted they were working blind in many cases, unsure of where to dig. August's quake came in the middle of the night, when everyone was at home. This time, the quake happened in the early evening, when people were out.

"At every site possible we are searching and listening. We are talking to people to see if they know the whereabouts of their relatives," Colonel Gilad Golan, of the Israeli team working in Duzce, said yesterday.

Seismologists are warning that more quakes may be on the way, and panic is beginning to set in around the latest disaster zone. In the town of Akyazi, people were moving out of their homes into tents and setting up wooden shelters, after a warning that quakes could hit the town.

But in Istanbul the mood remained calm despite warnings that the city of 12 million could be in danger of a "devastating" quake. Turkey's leading seismologist, Professor Ahmet Mete Isikara, said on Saturday that the quake in August had activated a major fault system. The last section of fault that remains unbroken runs under the Sea of Marmara, perilously close to Istanbul.

But officials are still insisting that a summit of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will go ahead in the city this week, in spite of the latest disaster. And the US President, Bill Clinton, departed for Turkey as planned yesterday for a state visit. His wife Hillary Clinton, and daughter Chelsea, are already in Istanbul.