Second quake shakes Turkey; tourist areas intact

Travel Weekly reporter Gilbert Gjersvik was on a press trip in Istanbul when the latest quake struck this week. His report follows:

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- People ran from shops and buildings in the heart of Istanbul on Monday afternoon as an earthquake measuring magnitude 5.8 struck 60 miles west of the city in the province of Kocaeli.

From inside a tour bus carrying writers down a narrow shop-lined street here, only the sound of breaking glass and the panicked crowds indicated that the quake had occurred.

Seven people were reported killed and 312 injured in the area surrounding the epicenter, and in Istanbul some shops closed early and phone lines were tied up for hours.

Two tourists from Akron, Ohio -- Diane Klein and Tom Robinson -- were in the Conrad International hotel here when the quake struck.

Klein said the hotel swayed, and "we knew exactly what was happening, put on our shoes and went outside."

The two were in Istanbul after a Windstar cruise of Greece and Turkey.

Before traveling, they researched the risks of an Istanbul visit by viewing the State Department Web site and getting a reassuring fax that their agent -- Travel Unlimited in Elkhart, Ind. -- had received from Windstar.

JoAnn Grossman of St. Louis was a Tauck Tours passenger along with her husband, brother and sister-in-law.

After the Aug. 17 earthquake, they called their agent, Claire Adams of Windjammer Travel in St. Louis, and she checked with Tauck, which said there was no need to worry about Turkey.

Monday evening at a dinner hosted by the Turkish Ministry of Tourism here, Feyza Surucu, deputy general director, said the tourist regions had never been in danger.

And it is true, based on our viewing of the city, the major sites and attractions of this city have remained almost completely intact.

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