Over 100 people confirmed dead as earthquake rattles Turkey, Syria


By News Desk

A magnitude of 7.8 earthquake hit southeast Turkey and Syria early Monday, killing no fewer than 100 people and toppled buildings.

The toll according to the Turkish media is expected to rise.

Damage was reported across several Turkish provinces, and rescue teams were being sent from around the country.

At least 130 buildings tumbled down in Malatya province, Gov. Hulusi Sahin said. Authorities there retrieved three bodies and about a hundred people have been hospitalized, he said. That brought the death toll in Turkey to at least 18.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter that “search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched” to the areas hit by the quake.

“We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage,” he wrote.

There were at least six aftershocks, and people were urged not to enter damaged buildings due to the risks, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said.

“Our priority is to bring out people trapped under ruined buildings and to transfer them to hospitals,” he said.

In Syria, Dr. Muheeb Qaddour said the northwestern town of Atmed had at least 11 deaths.

He added that others are buried under the rubble. He said: “We fear that the deaths are in the hundreds.”

A mother and child were killed in Idlib province, Syria, according to the Syrian American Medical Society.

The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense described the situation in the rebel-held region as “disastrous,” adding that buildings have collapsed and people are trapped under the rubble.

The civil defense urged people to evacuate buildings and gather in open areas.

The earthquake came as the Middle East is experiencing a snowstorm that is expected to continue until Thursday.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake, felt as far off as Cairo, was centered about 20 miles from Gaziantep, a major city and provincial capital. It was about 16 miles from the town of Nurdagi.

It was centered 11 miles deep, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A strong 6.7 temblor rumbled about 10 minutes later.

Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management agency, AFAD, said the quake measured 7.4 and was centered in the town of Pazarcik, in Kahramanmaras province.

In Sanliurfa, at least 10 deaths have been confirmed, according to Gov. Salih Ayhan.

Several buildings tumbled down in the neighboring provinces of Malatya, Diyarbakir and Malatya, HaberTurk television reported. There was no immediate reports on casualties.

Turkey sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes.

The quake was also felt in Lebanon and Syria.

Syria’s state media reported that some buildings collapsed in the northern city of Aleppo and the central city of Hama.

In Syria’s rebel-held northwest that borders Turkey several buildings collapsed, according to the opposition’s Syrian civil Defense.

In Damascus, buildings shook and many people went down to the streets in fear.

The quake jolted residents in Lebanon from beds, shaking buildings for about 40 seconds. Many residents of Beirut left their homes and took to the streets or drove away.

There were no immediate reports of major damage or casualties in either country.

Some 18,000 were killed in powerful earthquakes that hit northwest Turkey in 1999.

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