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Turkey earthquake: Dozens killed while they slept

A powerful earthquake in eastern Turkey killed at least 57 people after burying victims in their sleep.

Around 100 more people were injured as the tremor, that measured 6.0 on the Richter scale, tore down mud-brick houses in remote villages in Elazig province.

Rescuers’ attempts to dig survivors from the rubble was also hindered by 20 aftershocks, the strongest measuring 4.1.

The hardest-hit villages, near the town of Kovancilar, were Okcular, Yukari Kanatli and Kayali.

No other deaths have been reported outside of these settlements since the first tremor struck at 4.32am (2.32am in Britain).

The effect of the quake was particularly devastating as the epicentre was only three miles beneath the Earth's surface, the Istanbul-based Kandilli observatory said.

Also, the flimsy housing, which is the only option for many of the rural poor in the region, also helped raise the death toll.

Elazig governor Muammer Erol said: “Villages consisting mainly of mud-brick houses have been damaged, but we have minimal damage such as cracks in buildings made of cement or stone.”

In the worst-hit village of Okcular, a mountain settlement that is home to 900 people, some 30 houses were demolished, according to rescue team leader Yasar Cagribay.

Residents wailed as the bodies of 17 people killed by the tremor were pulled from the houses. At least four of the dead there were four young sisters.

Seeking to recover any valuables they could from their homes, many villagers left for other towns to take shelter with relatives.

The quake killed many livestock, the main livelihood for the village, nestled in hills at a height of about 5,900ft.

The nearby villages of Yukari Kanatli, Kayalik, Gocmezler, Karakocan and Yukari Demirci were also seriously hit.

“Everything has been knocked down, there is not a stone in place,” said Yadin Apaydin, the mayor of Yukari Kanatli, where he said at least three villagers died.

The Turkish army arrived in the area to help scour the debris for survivors as after-shocks jolted the area..

Major earthquakes are frequent in Turkey, which is crossed by several active fault-lines.

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