Turkey earthquake: At least 18 dead and over 300 injured in 6.8 magnitude quake

24 January 2020, 22:47

Rescue workers search a collapsed building in Sivrice
Rescue workers search a collapsed building in Sivrice. Picture: PA

By Megan White

At least 18 people have died and more than 300 injured after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake rocked eastern Turkey.

The city of Elazig, around 500 miles east of the capital Ankara, was hardest hit, with buildings reduced to rubble and trapping several people.

TV footage showed rescuers pull out one injured person from the rubble of a collapsed building in the eastern Elazig area.

Rescue teams from neighbouring areas were dispatched to the affected areas, and Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said troops were on standby to help.

The quake struck at 8.55pm local time (5.55pm GMT) at a depth of 6.7km near the town of Sivrice in Elazig, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said.

The 6.8 magnitude quake struck Elazig city centre on Friday
The 6.8 magnitude quake struck Elazig city centre on Friday. Picture: PA

It was followed by several aftershocks, the strongest with magnitudes 5.4 and 5.1.

AFAD said eight people were killed in Elazig and another six in nearby Malatya.

At least 315 people were injured in the two areas.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter that all measures were being taken to "ensure that the earthquake that occurred in Elazig and was felt in many areas is overcome with the least amount of loss".

He said the ministers for the interior, health and the environment were sent to the afflicted region.

People in Elazig whose homes were damaged or were too afraid to go indoors were being moved to student dormitories or sports centre amid freezing conditions.

Elazig governor Cetin Oktay Kaldirim told NTV television that a fire broke out in a building in Sivrice but was quickly brought under control.

Earlier, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told NTV television that rescuers were trying to reach survivors after a four- or five-story building collapsed in the town of Maden, in Elazig. Other buildings collapsed in Sivrice.

Local administrator Cuma Telceken said up to seven people are believed to be trapped inside two collapsed buildings in Maden.

Mr Soylu was at a meeting on earthquake preparedness when the quake struck.

The Kandilli seismology centre in Istanbul said the quake measured 6.5, while the US Geological Survey gave the preliminary magnitude as 6.7, and said the quake affected not only Turkey but also Syria, Georgia and Armenia.

Different earthquake monitoring centres frequently give differing estimates.

NTV said the earthquake was felt in several Turkish areas and sent people running outdoors in panic.

Turkey sits on top of two major fault-lines and earthquakes are frequent. Two strong earthquakes struck north-west Turkey in 1999, killing around 18,000 people.

A magnitude 6 earthquake killed 51 people in Elazig in 2010.