At least 22 dead in Turkey earthquake

Umit Ozdal
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Turkey Earthquake

Rescuers are searching for survivors of a quake in Turkey that has killed at least 22 people

The death toll from a powerful earthquake in eastern Turkey has reached 22 as rescuers searched for an estimated 22 more people trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings.

The magnitude 6.8 quake late Friday shook Elazig province, about 550 km east of the capital Ankara, and was followed by more than 390 aftershocks, 12 of which had magnitudes over 4.

Eighteen people were killed in Elazig and four more in the neighbouring province of Malatya, said Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Authority (AFAD), adding 1031 others were injured and in hospitals in the region. It said rescue efforts were underway at three different sites in Elazig.

Footage early on Saturday showed emergency workers rescuing three people in Elazig after 12 hours under the rubble. A woman was rescued after 13 hours and authorities rescued another woman in Elazig some 15 hours after the quake.

Speaking in Elazig, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 39 people had been pulled out from under the rubble since the quake, but that 22 others were still trapped.

Speaking alongside Soylu, Health Minster Fahrettin Koca said 128 wounded people were still receiving treatment and that 34 of those were in intensive care, but not in critical conditions. He said additional medical centres would be set up if necessary.

State broadcaster TRT showed footage of dozens of workers in the dawn light using shovels to dig out a partly collapsed building in Elazig. Windows were smashed and balconies from at least four storeys had crashed to the ground.

Teams worked through the night with their hands, drills and mechanical diggers to remove bricks and plaster from the ruins in the province where the overnight temperature dipped to -8C.

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.

Emergency teams and rescue equipment were sent from other provinces to Elazig after the quake, with thousands of rescuers and medical personnel on the ground during rescue efforts.

Turkey has a history of powerful earthquakes. More than 17,000 people were killed in August 1999 when a 7.6 magnitude quake struck the western city of Izmit, 90km southeast of Istanbul. About 500,000 people were made homeless.

In 2011, an earthquake struck the eastern city of Van and the town of Ercis, some 100 km to the north, killing at least 523 people.