The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday killed nearly 200 people, leveled buildings while many people were asleep, and sent tremors as far away as Egypt and Cyprus.
The initial death toll in Turkey was 76, although it threatened to rise significantly since dozens of apartment blocks were flattened.
According to state media and a local hospital, 111 people also died in government-controlled and pro-Turkish areas of Syria.
People in Turkey sat in the snow in their pyjamas watching rescuers dig through debris of damaged homes.
15 minutes later, a 6.7-magnitude aftershock struck at a depth of 17.9 kilometres (11 miles), the US agency said.
Turkey’s AFAD emergencies service center says the first quake was 7.4.
There hasn’t been an earthquake like this in at least a century.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted: “I wish all our citizens who were affected by the earthquake the best.”
We hope we can get through this disaster together as soon as possible.”
There were dozens of buildings damaged across southern Turkey and neighbouring Syria, a country ravaged by violence that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions for more than a decade.
Turkish TV and social media showed rescuers digging through the rubble of leveled buildings in Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep.
The night sky was lit up by a fire in one image from Kahramanmaras.
According to NTV, buildings also collapsed in Adiyaman, Malatya, and Diyarbakir.
The quake was also felt in central Turkey and Ankara, CNN Turk reported.
‘Biggest earthquake ever’
A building collapsed near Latakia, on the west coast of Syria.
Several buildings partially collapsed in Hama, central Syria, with civil defence and firefighters trying to save survivors.
According to Syria’s National Earthquake Centre head Raed Ahmed, this is “historically the biggest earthquake the center has ever recorded”.
Turkey’s Academy of Sciences earthquake expert Naci Gorur urged officials to check the region’s dams immediately for cracks to avoid catastrophic flooding.
The earthquake zone in Turkey is one of the most active in the world
It was the worst earthquake to hit Turkey in decades when a 7.4-magnitude earthquake hit Duzce in 1999.
It killed more than 17,000 people, including about 1,000 in Istanbul.
A big quake could destroy Istanbul, which has allowed widespread construction without safety precautions.
In January 2020, a magnitude-6.8 earthquake hit Elazig, killing more than 40 people.
In October that year, a magnitude-7.0 earthquake hit Turkey’s Aegean coast, killing 114 people and injuring more than 1,000.
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