Istanbul February 6 2023: An earthquake measuring a preliminary magnitude 7.8 has hit southern Turkey near the Syrian border, the US Geological Service has said, killing dozens of people as it sent shockwaves across northern Syria, Cyprus and Lebanon.
The earthquake struck at 4:17am local time (01:17 GMT) on Monday as people were sleeping, at a depth of about 17.9km (11 miles), the USGS said.
“Extensive damage is probable,” it said.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) put the magnitude of the quake at 7.4 near the cities of Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep, close to the Syrian border. The tremor lasted for about a minute.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter that “search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched” to the areas hit by the earthquake.
“We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage,” he wrote.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said there had been at least six aftershocks and urged people not to enter damaged buildings due to the risks.
“Our priority is to bring out people trapped under ruined buildings and to transfer them to hospitals,” he said.
The governor of Turkey’s Malatya said at least 23 people had been killed in the city and 420 injured. In Sanliurfa, the death toll was at least 15, with 30 injured, according to the governor there.
Syrian state media say at least 42 people have died in the provinces of Aleppo, Hama, and Latakia.
At least 200 people were also injured, the SANA news agency reported citing the Syrian health ministry.
Videos shared on social media showed buildings reduced to piles of rubble in several cities in Turkey’s southeast.
Broadcasters TRT and Haberturk showed images of people gathered around destroyed buildings in the town of Kahramanmaras, looking for survivors. Other images showed people taking shelter in their cars on the side of snow-covered roads.