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Screams spur on quake rescuers.

Rescue teams were feverishly clawing their way through the ruins of a boarding school dormitory last night, hunting for dozens of children trapped following a pre-dawn earthquake in eastern Turkey.

Their screams could be heard from under the wreckage of what was a school for the children of poor Kurds in Celtiksuyu.

The quake killed up to 150 people and injured 1,000 others in the region.

More than 70 children were pulled from the debris of the school during the day. Terrified parents prayed and screamed, waiting for news.

Rescuers found the bodies of 11 children and one teacher in the rubble.

A civil defence official said that they had located at least eight children alive under the rubble. One child had his feet crushed, but the others were in good condition and had received water from rescuers.

Officials said they were still holding out hope to find more survivors. Rescue workers were still searching for up to 90 children that were unaccounted for.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said nearly 100 people were killed, while Housing Minister Zeki Ergezen said the death toll could be 150 throughout the region.

City official Sevket Turan in Bingol, where the quake was centred, said 90 people were dead and close to 1,000 injured.

Balgi said the voices of children screaming could be heard from the debris.

"We hope another 50 students will be saved," Balgi said, adding that many were feared dead.

Some 198 pupils - aged seven to 16 - were sleeping in the dormitory when the quake hit before dawn. Most were sons of poor Kurdish farmers from surrounding villages that do not have schools.

"My friends are waiting for help in there. They were calling for help as they were pulling me out," said 12-year-old Veysel Dagdelen.

The magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck at 3.27am and was centred just outside the city of Bingol, 430 miles east of Ankara.

At least 25 buildings and a bridge collapsed in the centre of Bingol, a city of 250,000. Damage could be seen throughout the city, where the streets were filled with terrified residents.

The earthquake damaged power and telephone lines in the area. More than 100 aftershocks hit the region.

Early warning hope

Scientists hope to develop an earthquake early warning system that would give potential victims vital seconds to take cover, it emerged yesterday.

Geologists in California believe they can take advantage of the low-energy waves that often precede a quake to give as much as 40 seconds' advance notice.

It is hoped the warning would allow people to shelter under solid furniture, evacuate buildings, divert aircraft, stop trains, shut down pipelines and computer networks and distance themselves from dangerous machinery or chemicals.

The system is based on TriNet, a network of 155 seismic stations in California.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 2, 2003
Words:469
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