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Search For Quake Survivors Ends

Officials called off search-and-rescue efforts as soldiers and aid workers raced to provide shelter and food Monday for Turks left homeless by a quake that killed at least 43 people and damaged more than 600 buildings.

A military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there were no more survivors or bodies left in the rubble of collapsed buildings in the central province of Afyon, where hundreds of people spent the night in tents or vehicles despite subfreezing temperatures.

Sleepless and shivering Turks tended the living on Monday and prepared to bury the dead.

"We're still living, but it's like we're dead," said Ismail Karagoz, mourning the loss of neighbors and the livestock locals depend on for their living.

The government's crisis center in the region put the quake's death toll at 43 Monday, and said earlier reports that 45 people had died were based on inaccurate counting.


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Municipal vehicles drove through the small town of Cay announcing through loudspeakers the names of the dead, and the time and place of their funerals.

At a funeral in the nearby town of Sultandag, local men formed two long lines and passed six coffins down a human corridor, before gently placing them in a hearse.

Most of the buildings toppled by Sunday's magnitude-6 quake were old brick and mud houses, shoddily built shops or state-owned buildings. Rescue workers said the buildings had become piles of rubble and dust, leaving none of the air pockets needed to keep victims alive.

Health officials said over 300 people were injured. Four mosques also collapsed, private television NTV reported.

Tacettin Gence's 60-year-old sister was killed when her home in Eber collapsed. "This has been the worst earthquake for me," he said, standing near a truck in which his wife and children were sheltering with several other families.

The quake, felt in cities up to 190 miles north and west of the epicenter, hit a nation where memories of people trapped in homes are still vivid after two massive quakes that killed 18,000 people in the northwest of the country in 1999. Badly constructed buildings were blamed for the large number of deaths in those quakes and some constructors have since been put on trial.

The government, accused in the past of reacting too slowly to natural disasters, was sending more than 20,000 blankets, 7,000 tents and 3,000 gas heaters to the region, Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said Monday after a Cabinet meeting to discuss the quake.

"The state is rushing to the aid of citizens who are suffering," Ecevit said.

More than 600 buildings were damaged or destroyed, the government's disaster relief office said Monday.

With dozens of aftershocks rocking the region, officials warned people to stay clear of damage buildings. In Cay, hundreds preferred to brave the cold and sleep outdoors or at a local school used as a temporary hostel.

"I prefer not to go home, I feel safer outside," said Senol Gursel as he joined a line of some 400 people for a traditional Turkish breakfast of tea, bread and cheese. Gursel said he had slept in his car while his wife and children bedded down on carpets at the school.

"Our house is damaged, we spent the night outdoors and lit a fire to keep warm, it's all we could do," said Ibrahim Dogan, bringing his 3-year-old baby to Cay's state hospital early Monday. He said the baby had caught a chill in the bitter night cold.

In Sultandagi, troops pitched tents in the market place, while many spent the night in cars parked well clear of buildings.

At least 26 people were injured when they threw themselves out of windows and balconies fearing that they would be trapped inside collapsed buildings.

Sultandagi, at the foot of the Sultan mountains, is some 125 miles south of the capital, Ankara. In the summer, the area's dusty plains are carpeted by red poppies used to produce morphine derivatives used as painkillers.

Until the 1970s, the poppies were used to produce opium and heroin. In 1971, the government halted poppy-growing under pressure from the United States. Poppy cultivation resumed in 1974 under government control. The poppies are being processed for pharmaceutical use in a state factory in Bolvadin, where one person died during the quake. No damage to the factory was reported.

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