Mon, 17 Feb 2020

A powerful earthquake has hit the eastern Turkish province of Elazig, causing buildings to collapse and leaving at least 21 people dead and hundreds injured, officials say.

The magnitude-6.8 quake struck near the town of Sivrice in Elazig Province -- some 750 kilometers from the Turkish capital, Ankara -- shortly before 9 p.m., the government's disaster and emergency management agency said on January 24. It was followed by several aftershocks.

At least 17 people were killed in the city of Elazig, and four in the nearby city of Malatya, according to the national disaster agency, AFAD. Some 920 injured are in hospitals in the region, it added.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said authorities had directed rescue teams to the region and were searching for 30 people under the rubble of collapsed buildings. He cited a figure of 533 people injured.

Soylu said Turkey, which straddles seismic fault lines and is prone to earthquakes, had learned lessons from previous disasters, helping it to react to this incident. Drones were being used to aid search operations and communication between provinces, he said.

In 1999, a quake hit the western city of Izmit, leaving more than 17,000 people dead and about 500,000 homeless.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote on Twitter that all efforts were being taken to 'ensure that the earthquake that occurred in Elazig and was felt in many provinces is overcome with the least amount of loss.'

The earthquake struck in a remote, relatively sparsely populated area.

State media in Syria and Iran reported it was felt in those countries. Lebanese media said the cities of Beirut and Tripoli also felt the quake.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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