Turkey: Earthquakes hit western Turkey

  • International staff: 25 A massive earthquake struck Turkey in the early hours of August 17th, 1999, devastating much of densely populated, industrialized western Turkey. The quake, which measured 7.4 on the Richter scale, took over 17,000 lives and injured many thousands more. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, MSF set up and staffed five small clinics in Izmit and GÃ?¶lcÃ?¼k, two cities near the epicenter, to address the basic medical needs of earthquake victims. Working closely with a Turkish NGO, the organization also set up ten water bladders (able to provide water for 1,500 people each) and distributed plastic sheeting for thousands of families. Teams of nephrology specialists brought five dialysis machines to the Marmara University Hospital in Istanbul, to treat the acute kidney failure that often occurs when limbs are crushed. MSF also offered psychological assistance for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. In November, a second major earthquake hit, with the epicenter in Duzce. In the town of Kaynasli, MSF set up several health posts and worked to ensure adequate water and sanitation. MSF worked in Turkey from August through September 1999 and again in November and December.