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Monday, November 15, 1999 Published at 15:24 GMT

World: Europe

Clinton promises aid for Turkey

Women sit by the ruins of their house in Kaynasli

US President Bill Clinton has pledged $1bn in credits to help Turkey rebuild following the latest earthquake.

Turkey Earthquake
Speaking in Ankara after talks with Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, Mr Clinton said the US was considering further aid to help earthquake survivors, who are now threatened by cold weather and rain.

"The United States is proud to stand with Turkey in good times or bad," the US president said.

The BBC's Jonathan Charles reports: "One in ten of the town's population is dead"
US Embassy officials said the loans - provided by the US Export-Import Bank - would be granted to small and medium-scale enterprises in the disaster areas.

They would be made available through 12 Turkish banks, the officials said.

The official crisis centre says 452 people were killed and 2,385 injured in the powerful quake, which struck the north-west of the country on Friday.

The BBC's June Kelly in Duzce: "The tragedy has been compounded by bad weather"
However hundreds of people are still unaccounted for and it is believed the death toll could be much higher because many families have buried their loved ones quickly according to Muslim tradition. The authorities say it is impossible to calculate definitive numbers at this stage.

President Clinton will spend three days in Istanbul, where his programme will include tours of areas affected by last week's earthquakes and an earlier quake in August.

He will also be attending a summit meeting of leaders from member countries of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which opens on Wednesday.

[ image: The US and Turkish presidents held talks in Ankara]
The US and Turkish presidents held talks in Ankara
The White House said there was no question of the visit being cancelled despite warnings from seismologists that there was a strong possibility of another big earthquake in the region soon.

The US president will meet survivors of August's earthquake in Izmit on Tuesday.

Izmit, the epicentre of the first quake, is just 100km from the second quake's epicentre and was rocked by Friday's tremors.

Click here to see an explanation of Turkey's tectonic plate movements

Some 72 hours after the earthquake struck, rescue teams are still hoping that they might find someone alive amid the piles of masonry and mounds of rubble.

Officials are also concerned about the tens of thousands of survivors who lack adequate shelter against rain and freezing overnight temperatures.

More high-quality winter tents are said to be urgently needed.

Aid effort

Correspondents say the government's response has been much faster than it was after August's quake.

Some 4,000 Turkish soldiers have been mobilised, and emergency plans are already in place.

International rescue teams from the US, UK, Greece, France, Germany and Italy have joined Turks in the hunt for survivors.

Transport Minister Enis Oksuz said the quake could cost Turkey's fragile economy $10bn - on top of the $12bn from August's disaster.

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