At least 10 dead after powerful earthquake rocks southeast Turkey


A 7.8 magnitude earthquake has destroyed multiple buildings in southeast Turkey and Syria, with many casualties feared.

In Sanliurfa, at least 10 deaths have been confirmed, according to Gov. Salih Ayhan.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter that “search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched” to the areas hit by the quake.

“We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage,” he wrote.

At least six aftershocks were recorded.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu urged people not to enter damaged buildings due to the risks.

“Our priority is to bring out people trapped under ruined buildings and to transfer them to hospitals,” he said.

Several buildings tumbled down in the neighbouring provinces of Malatya, Diyarbakir and Malatya, HaberTurk television reported. There were no immediate reports on casualties.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centred about 33 kilometres from Gaziantep, a major city and provincial capital. It was centred 18 kilometres deep, and a strong 6.7 aftershock rumbled about 10 minutes later.

Quake felt in neighbouring countries

In northwest Syria, the opposition’s Syrian Civil Defence described the situation in the rebel-held region as “disastrous,” adding that entire buildings had collapsed and people were trapped under the rubble.

The civil defence urged people to evacuate buildings and gather in open areas.

Syria’s state media reported that some buildings collapsed in the northern city of Aleppo and the central city of Hama.

In Damascus, buildings shook and many people went down to the streets in fear.

The quake jolted residents in Lebanon from beds, shaking buildings for about 40 seconds. Many residents of Beirut left their homes and took to the streets or drove in their cars away from buildings.

The earthquake came as the Middle East is experiencing a snowstorm that is expected to continue until Thursday.

Turkey sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes.

Some 18,000 were killed in powerful earthquakes that hit northwest Turkey in 1999.

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