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OKCULAR, Turkey – A strong, pre-dawn earthquake knocked down stone and mud-brick houses, barns and minarets in eastern Turkey on Monday, killing 51 people in five villages, the government said.
The earthquake surprised many residents as they slept, crumpling buildings into piles of rubble. Panicked survivors fled into narrow village streets, some climbing out of windows, as nearly 80 aftershocks measuring up to 5.5 and 5.3 magnitude rattled the region.
The Kandilli seismology center said the 6.0-magnitude quake hit at 4:32 a.m. (0232 GMT, 9 p.m. EST Sunday) near the village of Basyurt in a remote, sparsely populated area of Elazig province. The region is 340 miles (550 kilometers) east of Ankara, the capital.
The U.S. Geological Survey listed the quake at 5.9 magnitude.
The government initially put the death toll at 57 but later lowered it to 51 with no explanation. In addition to the deaths, 34 people were being treated for injuries, Turkey's crisis center said.