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Remarks to the Press Pool by Lynn Thomas, USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance

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For Immediate Release November 16, 1999


Temporary shelter area
Izmit, Turkey

11:55 A.M. (L)

Q So what do we have here in total, in Izmit?

MR. THOMAS: In the camp itself, as far as population, it's kind of fluctuating right now. But I understand there's around -- over 1,200 people.

Q In this camp?


Q I thought it was 9,000.

MR. THOMAS: Nine thousand, that's correct. But 1,200 tents.

Q Twelve hundred tents?

MR. THOMAS: Twelve hundred tents.

Q And 435 of those tents were donated by the Marines?

MR. THOMAS: There's 500 -- over 6,000 tents were donated by the U.S. We just had another 500 come in. And the Marines -- the large green ones are what -- are military GP large tents.

Q Right. Six thousand?

MR. THOMAS: There was some Pakistani tents that we had purchased for Kosovo, that was diverted to come in here.

Q But so far it's 6,000? Because we were told just a few minutes ago it was 9,000. So is it 6,000 or 9,000?

Q No, that's people. Nine thousand people.

MR. THOMAS: Nine thousand people.

Q No, no, no. I heard 9,000 tents.

MR. THOMAS: No. Yes, it's 6,000.

Q Six thousand tents, okay.

Q Were you here last week when the quake hit?

MR. THOMAS: Yes, I was.

Q What was that like? Can you describe the scene in the camp, and the reaction?

MR. THOMAS: There was a lot of panic. These people are -- they're -- any of the aftershocks, you know, there's this -- the first reaction is, people freeze, you know. And then everybody kind of looks around at each other, and they're trying to decide whether to run or not. Most of the injuries that occur is through panic -- people jumping out of windows, if they're in buildings, and --

Q Did that happen?

MR. THOMAS: Yes. Yes. The second earthquake that caused damage, I was reassigned up there to work with Fairfax County Search and Rescue. And it's -- we're going into a point -- mostly what we're doing right now is recovery.

Q How would you contrast the two operations, both from -- you know, how the Turkish government has handled it, and the rest of the disaster community?

MR. THOMAS: Oh, there's been a lot of response, you know, from the donor communities. The search and rescue teams, there's almost 35 from different countries. A large response in EU. But right now, they're doing assessments, trying to figure out what they're going to need in the way of shelter -- you know, blankets, food, that kind of stuff.

Q Are you doing anything different now than the first time, here in Turkey?

MR. THOMAS: Well, right now we're just -- again, we're trying to figure out what's in-country, what the needs are, before we start bringing in additional stuff. The biggest shortage seems to be, right now, is winter shelter.

Q Thank you.

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Europe 1999 Briefings: November 12-17

Briefing by National Security Advisor Samuel Berger

Briefing on Caspian Sea Diplomacy and the Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Joe Lockhart

Remarks by Lynn Thomas

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Briefing by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Joe Lockhart

Briefing on President's State Visit to Turkey

Press Briefing by National Security Advisor Samuel Berger

Press Briefing on the President's Trip to Europe