Major earthquake in Turkey kills at least 1,121, over 7,000 injured

A 7.8 magnitude quake has knocked down multiple buildings in southeast Turkey and Syria and many casualties are feared

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
5 min read

The death toll rose to 1,121 from a major earthquake that shook Turkey’s south early on Monday, and a total 7,634 people have been injured, an official from the disaster and emergencies management agency (AFAD) said.

The quake was centered on the province of Kahramanmaras and shook southern Turkey and northern Syria overnight, toppling buildings and sending panicked residents pouring outside in a cold winter night.

It was followed by another powerful tremor with a 7.7 magnitude in the same region at around 1025 GMT.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier said 2,818 buildings were destroyed after the first tremor, describing it as the country’s “largest disaster” since 1939, when a major quake struck the eastern province of Erzincan.

Among the buildings affected by the earthquake is the Gaziantep Castle, a historic and touristic site, that was destroyed after a large section of the building slid off a cliff.

In 1999, a tremor of similar magnitude devastated Izmit and the heavily populated eastern Marmara Sea region near Istanbul, killing more than 17,000.

“Everyone is putting their heart and soul into efforts, although the winter season, cold weather and the earthquake happening during the night make things more difficult,” he told reporters in a news conference at Turkey’s disaster coordination center in Ankara.

“We do not know how high the casualty numbers will go as efforts to lift the debris continue in several buildings in the earthquake zone,” he said.

Some 9,000 personnel were taking part in the rescue operations, he said. Offers of assistance have been made by NATO, the European Union and 45 countries, he added.

Erdogan said 5,385 people had been injured in the quake as rescue operations continued, with 2,470 people rescued from the ruins of buildings.

“Today is a day for 85 million to be together as one heart,” he said.

After the earthquake, rescue workers and residents frantically searched for survivors under the rubble of crushed buildings in multiple cities on both sides of the border.

In one quake-struck Turkish city, dozens pulled away chunks of concrete and twisted metal. People on the street shouted up to others inside a partially toppled apartment building, leaning dangerously.

On the Turkish side, the area has several large cities and is home to millions of Syrian refugees.

Erdogan had 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.

There were at least 6 aftershocks, and 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.

Tallies from various officials put the toll at at least 38 dead in Turkey and 62 in Syria.

At least 130 buildings tumbled down in Turkey’s Malatya province, neighboring the epicenter, Gov. Hulusi Sahin said. In the Turkish city of Diyarbakir, at least 15 buildings collapsed. Rescue teams called for silence as they listed for survivors in a toppled 11-story building.

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.

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.

Read more:

At least 42 dead, 200 injured in Syria after earthquake: State media

Saudi embassy in Turkey working with authorities to confirm deaths after quake

Countries offer support, aid to Turkey, Syria after devastating earthquake

Top Content Trending