Powerful earthquake strikes eastern Turkey
January 25, 2020 | 8:39 AM
by DW
Photo Supplied

A powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck eastern Turkey on Friday, killing at least 20 people and injuring over 500 others.

The quake hit at a depth of 6.7 kilometers near the town of Sivrice in Elazig province — some 750 kilometers (465 miles) from the Turkish capital, Ankara — at 8:55 p.m local time (1755 UTC).

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said search and rescue teams were quickly dispatched to Elazig and that the country's military was on standby to help.

Emergency teams worked through the night with floodlights in the freezing cold to try to rescue some 30 people trapped in the rubble of toppled buildings.

At least 16 people were killed in Elazig, and four in the neighboring Malatya, according to a national disaster agency. Some 920 injured were in hospitals in the region, it added.

"It was very scary, furniture fell on top of us. We rushed outside," 47-year-old Elazig resident Melahat Can told a news agency. "We will spend the coming days in a farmhouse outside the city," she said.

Searching for survivors

At least one building gave way in the town of Maden and four buildings collapsed in the town of Sivrice. Rescuers were trying to reach survivors, according to disaster management services. Some 30 people are believed to be trapped in the wreckage.

More than 100 aftershocks were recorded in the wake of the earthquake, with one clocking in at 5.4 magnitude.

Turkey's emergency response agency warned the residents in affected areas against returning to damaged buildings, as more aftershocks remain possible.

Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan said all measures would be taken to ensure the safety of the people at risk, state media reported.

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.

History of earthquakes

Turkey has a history of being rocked by powerful earthquakes. Thousands of people were killed and many more displaced when a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck the western city of Izmit in 1999.

In 2011, more than 500 people were killed by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in the eastern city of Van.

Subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know all the latest news