Moderate earthquake causes panic, slight damage in southeastern Turkey

A moderate earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.9 shook southeastern Turkey on Wednesday, sending people into the streets in panic and slightly damaging some buildings, officials said. No injuries were reported.

The epicenter of the quake was the town of Sivrice in the province of Elazig, the Istanbul-based Kandilli observatory said. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 5.7.

The quake caused great panic and slightly damaged a primary school as well as a post office, said Huseyin Saydam, the head of the local branch of the ruling Justice and Development Party in Sivrice.

Soldiers and police were trying to reach remote mountain villages while a paramilitary helicopter flew over the area to make an assessment, CNN-Turk television said.

Parents rushed to schools to pick up their children in the region, the broadcaster reported.

Seismologists warned against aftershocks and residents were fearful of re-entering buildings, reports said, reports AP.

The area was struck by a magnitude-5.3 quake on Feb. 9. More than two dozen people were injured in that temblor.

The latest quake was also felt in the neighboring provinces of Diyarbakir, Tunceli and Malatya, reports said.

Earthquakes are frequent in Turkey, much of which lies atop the active North Anatolian fault. Two devastating earthquakes killed about 18,000 people in northwestern Turkey in 1999.

In 2003, an earthquake measuring 6.4 magnitude collapsed a school dormitory in southeastern Bingol province, killing 83 children. The collapse was blamed on poor construction.

A magnitude-6.4 quake killed 177 people in Bingol in 1995.

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