Powerful 7.8 earthquake destroys buildings in Turkey and Syria
ANKARA, Turkey — A 7.8 magnitude earthquake toppled several buildings in southeastern Turkey and Syria early Monday and many casualties are feared.
At least 10 deaths were initially reported in Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter that “search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched” to quake-affected areas.
“We hope that we will get through this disaster together as quickly as possible and with the least damage,” he wrote.
There were at least 6 aftershocks and he urged people not to enter damaged buildings due to the risks, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said.
“Our priority is to get people trapped under crumbling buildings out and transfer them to hospitals,” he said.
In northwestern Syria, the opposition Syrian Civil Defense described the situation in the rebel-held region as “disastrous”, adding that entire buildings have collapsed and people are trapped under the rubble. . Civil Defense urged people to evacuate buildings to congregate in open areas.
The US Geological Survey said the quake was centered about 33 kilometers (20 miles) from Gaziantep, a major city and provincial capital. It was centered 18 kilometers (11 miles) deep and a strong 6.7 aftershock rumbled about 10 minutes later.
Turkey’s disaster and emergency management agency, AFAD, said the quake measured 7.4 and was centered in the town of Pazarcik in Kahramanmaras province.
In Sanliurfa, at least 10 deaths have been confirmed, according to Governor Salih Ayhan.
Several buildings collapsed in the neighboring provinces of Malatya, Diyarbakir and Malatya, HaberTurk TV reported. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Syrian state media reported that some buildings collapsed in the northern city of Aleppo and in the central city of Hama.
In Damascus, buildings shook and many people took to the streets in fear.
The earthquake rocked residents of Lebanon from their beds, shaking buildings for about 40 seconds. Many Beirut residents left their homes and took to the streets or drove their cars away from buildings.
The quake came as the Middle East experiences a snowstorm that is expected to continue through Thursday.
Turkey sits atop major fault lines and is frequently rocked by earthquakes.
Some 18,000 people were killed in powerful earthquakes that struck northwestern Turkey in 1999.