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Magnitude-5.9 earthquake rattles Turkey

A magnitude-5.9 earthquake shook the Aegean port city of Izmir early Friday morning, sending panicked residents into the streets.
/ Source: Reuters

A moderate earthquake shook western Turkey early on Friday, causing slight damage to several buildings and resulting in 15 casualties from the ensuing panic, the local governor said.

The Kandilli earthquake observation center said the tremor at 12:40 a.m. measured 5.9 on the Richter scale and its epicenter was in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Seferihisar in Izmir province.

Izmir Gov. Oguz Kagan Köksal told the CNN Turk television channel that 15 people had been taken to hospital as a result of heart attacks or jumping from buildings during the quake.

The roofs of five buildings, three of them empty, were damaged in the tremor, he said.

Residents gathered in parks and open areas after the quake, and the local council made public announcements telling them not to go back into their houses, CNN Turk said.

Turkey is criss-crossed by seismic fault lines and experiences frequent tremors. Some 18,000 people were killed in a powerful earthquake in northwest Turkey in 1999.

Authorities decided to close schools in the Izmir region on Friday as a result of the quake, the channel said.