Up To 1000 Killed in 7.3 Magnitude Earthquake, Turkey
A magnitude 7.3 earthquake has shaken Van province in Eastern Turkey and may have killed up to 1000 people, according to the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) and other sources.
The earthquake hit at 13:40 local time and was shortly followed by two more quakes of 5.4 and 4.5 on the Richter Scale. Tens of smaller aftershocks followed the biggest earthquake, which was logged at 10km deep, initially giving rise to hopes that casualities might be minimal.
Those hopes were dashed by a report by Associated Press citing Van Mayor Bekir Kaya who said that two buildings in the centre of Van collapsed and that there are many dead. According to the Turkish Red Crescent via AP, 25 apartment buildings and one dormitory have collapsed in Ercis. Initial estimates are that 500-1000 people were killed in the wreckage, said Mustafa Erdik of the Boğaziçi University Kandilli Obdervatory Earthquake Research Institute in a press conference. So far, 432 deaths have been confirmed by government officials.
Anadolu agency said that citizens were trapped in the wreckage of the collapsed buildings and that the epicentre of the earthquake was in Tabanli village. There are at least 1300 injured and the Turkish government has sent helicopters and an air ambulance to help with rescue efforts. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is set to visit the disaster zone where there are now thousands of homeless people.
The epicentre of the earthquake is 42km north of the city of Van, population 371,713, and 21km southeast of Ercis, population 91,915. A witness in Armenia posted a testimonial in EMSC saying that the earthquake was even felt for 10 seconds in Yerevan, Armenia - 172km northeast of the epicentre in Van.
The last major earthquake in Turkey was in 1999 in Izmit when a 7.6 magnitude tremblor killed 17,000 people.
Offers of humanitarian aid have been sent to Turkey's government from neighboring countries Greece, Armenia and Israel, say reports from those countries.
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