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OPINION

7.3 quake in Turkey mobilizes response

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- Southern Baptist disaster relief specialists are responding in the aftermath of a 7.3-magnitude earthquake that struck eastern Turkey the afternoon of Oct. 23.
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The disaster killed at least 238 people and sent tens of thousands into the streets as apartment and office buildings collapsed or cracked, the Associated Press reported.

The hardest-hit area was Ercis, an eastern city of 75,000 near the Iranian border, which lies on one of Turkey's most earthquake-prone zones, the AP reported. The provincial capital, Van, about 55 miles to the south, also sustained substantial damage. More than 100 aftershocks were recorded within 10 hours of the quake, including one with a magnitude of 6.0.

The Baptist Global Response disaster network has mobilized teams to respond to the earthquake, said Patrick J. Melancon, BGR's managing director of disaster response and training. A five-member assessment team is on the ground now.

"Teams are within hours of arriving in the area with tarps and other supplies to assist survivors," Melancon said. "The teams are a part of the network of responders trained by Baptist Global Response to provide both rapid response and longer-term assessments during a crisis like this one. These teams provide local response capability wherever the teams may reside."

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Damage in areas outlying the quake's epicenter also is a concern and is being assessed as well, Melancon said. Estimates of loss of life are still pending as rescue teams attempt to find survivors in the rubble.

The area is primarily populated by Kurds with a total population of around 380,000, Melancon noted. Residents in Van and Ercis lit campfires and spent the night outdoors, while the Red Crescent began setting up tents in a stadium, the AP noted.

Compiled by Baptist Press senior writer and assistant editor Mark Kelly.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net

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