A powerful earthquake struck eastern Turkey on Friday, killing more than 18 people and collapsing buildings in affected towns near the centre of the tremor, which was felt in several neighbouring countries too.
The magnitude 6.8 quake shook Elazig province, about 550 km east of the capital Ankara, and was followed by dozens of aftershocks.
13 people were killed in Elazig and 5 more in the neighbouring areas of Malatya, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said after rushing to the region with other ministers to oversee the rescue operation.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said that emergency workers were searching for 30 people under the rubble, and at list 500 people were injured.
State broadcaster TRT showed footage of police and emergency workers searching a partly collapsed building in Elazig. Windows were smashed and balconies had crashed to the ground.
At another collapsed building, teams worked with their hands to remove bricks and plaster from the ruins. Elsewhere emergency workers used drills and mechanical diggers to clear the debris, while injured people were taken on stretchers to ambulances for nearest Hospitals.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) warned residents not to return to damaged buildings because of the danger of further aftershocks. It said beds, blankets and tents were being sent to the area, where the overnight temperature was below 0 degrees Celsius.
State media in Syria and Iran both reported the earthquake was felt in those countries. Local media in Lebanon said the cities of Beirut and Tripoli also felt the quake.