Turks lose more lives in quake amid ruins of Izmit

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The Independent Online
TRAGEDY IS becoming an everyday routine for the people of north- west Turkey. They were still grieving for the dead they lost in last month's earthquake when another took yet more from them yesterday. It struck in almost exactly the same spot, killing three and injuring dozens of others. When sorrows come to Turkey, they come not single spies, but in battalions.

On the streets of Izmit yesterday there was not rage, but a quiet resignation. "What can we do?" said Mehmet Tas, shrugging his shoulders. "It seems that Turkey just has to get used to living with earthquakes."

It was all becoming bitterly familiar. The people had seen the scenes of panic before, terrified residents rushing from swaying buildings into the street. They had felt the ground suddenly grow unstable beneath their feet, and heard the strange distant thunder. And they had seen the dead bodies being dragged from the rubble before.

Several buildings weakened in August's quake collapsed yesterday in the nearby town of Golcuk. Picking your way through the streets of Izmit, it was hard to tell which rubble was new and which was still waiting to be cleared away from last month's disaster. Whole areas of this town are already graveyards of twisted, wrecked homes.

Yesterday's quake measured only 5.8 on the Richter scale, a shadow of the terrible convulsion that ripped through Turkey last month. But it will give chilling weight to the words of scientists who say the fault lines deep beneath the Eastern Aegean region are fragmenting yet more, and further quakes are on their way.

Fikret Gencer lost his house in last month's quake. He and his family are living in one of the tent cities that fill every inch of available space in Izmit. Yet he says he will never move no matter how many quakes strike.

"Perhaps the people who emigrated here will leave," he said. "But the real Izmit people will always stay here. This is my home. I have nowhere else to go."

In the tent city people stared at the new devastation on televisions salvaged from their homes. Yildiz Celik hugged her six-year-old daughter close to her. "I lost my other daughter in the last earthquake. She was two. I was terrified I would lose this daughter today. She is all I've got left." Then she turned away to weep.

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