A powerful tremor rocks Turkey killing 18

International Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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A powerful earthquake has killed at least 18 people and injured hundreds in eastern Turkey, as rescue teams searched through the rubble of collapsed buildings for survivors early on Saturday.

At least 30 people were missing following the magnitude 6.8 quake, which had its epicentre in the small lakeside town of Sivrice in the eastern province of Elazig.

“It was very scary, furniture fell on top of us. We rushed outside,” 47-year-old Melahat Can, who lives in the provincial capital of Elazig, told AFP.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said all steps were being taken to aid people affected by the quake, which caused widespread fear.

“We stand by our people,” Erdogan said on Twitter.

People who fled their homes in panic were lighting fires in the streets to stay warm in freezing temperatures.

The Turkish government’s disaster and emergency management agency (AFAD) said the quake hit Sivrice at around 8.55 pm (1755 GMT). Turkey lies on major faultlines and is prone to frequent earthquakes.

Turkish television showed images of people rushing outside in panic, as well as a fire on the roof of a building.

Interior, environment and health ministers said at least 18 people were killed, 13 of them in Elazig province and five others in the neighbouring province of Malatya, which lies to the southwest.

Some 553 people were injured, they said.

“There is nobody trapped under the rubble in Malatya but in Elazig search and rescue efforts are currently under way to find 30 citizens,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said.

Rescue teams were searching for survivors trapped in a five-storey collapsed building in a village some 30 kilometres from Elazig, according to AFP journalists at the scene. One person was pulled alive from the rubble.

Sports centers, schools and guest houses had been opened to accommodate quake victims in Malatya.

In 1999, a devastating 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Izmit in western Turkey, leaving more than 17,000 people dead including about 1,000 in the country’s largest city Istanbul.

In September last year, a 5.7-magnitude earthquake shook Istanbul, causing residents to flee buildings in the economic capital.

Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate the city of 15 million people, which has allowed widespread building without safety precautions.

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