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Swiss, international teams search for Turkey quake survivors

A second Swiss rescue team joined international relief efforts in Turkey on Wednesday as local crews faced the dual tasks of searching for bodies and aiding survivors from the previous day’s massive earthquake.

This content was published on August 18, 1999 - 17:22

A second Swiss rescue team joined international relief efforts in Turkey on Wednesday as local crews faced the dual tasks of searching for bodies and aiding survivors from the previous day’s massive earthquake.

The Swiss team is made up of 90 delegates of the Swiss Disaster Unit and includes 18 sniffer dogs and special search and rescue equipment. Switzerland’s eight-member advance team had arrived Tuesday night and immediately joined the search operation.

About 3,500 people were killed and more than 17,000 injured in Tuesday's quake, which left an arc of destruction from Istanbul to the Golcuk area about 130 kilometers (80 miles) southeast, according to a special crisis office headed by Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit.

It was almost certain the casualty count would climb.

As many as 10,000 people could still be trapped in rubble around Golcuk, a navy base town near the quake's epicenter, said the town's mayor, Ismail Baris. Thousands more were missing in Istanbul and elsewhere.

In Izmit, a major industrial city, the tremor triggered a fire at Turkey's largest oil refinery and authorities evacuated a five-kilometer (three-mile) area.

Nearly 40 large aftershocks rattled western Turkey as injured people were carried out on military aircraft or aboard naval vessels in the Sea of Marmara.

Refrigerated meat and produce trucks were used as temporary morgues because of the summer heat.

Search and rescue teams and tonnes of equipment were dispatched by the United States and European nations. Even Greece, a regional rival of Turkey, sent a military plane with emergency supplies.

Israel, a close Middle East ally, assigned special military rescue teams that helped in the aftermath of the 1992 bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the 1998 terrorist blasts at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan pledged "relief and rehabilitation" funds. In Geneva, the International Committee of the Red Cross launched an appeal for SFr10.52 million ($6.92 million) to aid about 100,000 quake victims.

From staff and wire reports.

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