At least 195 people have died in a catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Turkey – knocking down buildings and causing devastation across the region.
The fatal tremor lasted about a minute, and was felt as far as Cyprus, Egypt, and Lebanon – sending terrified residents into snowy streets to avoid being crushed within the crumbling structures.
The quake was centered north of Gaziantep, Turkey, which is about 60 miles from the Syrian border.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management agency says the 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed at least 76 people in seven Turkish provinces. The agency said 440 people were injured.
Meanwhile, the death toll in government-held areas of Syria from Monday’s quake climbed to 99, according to Syrian state media citing the Health Ministry. In addition, at least 334 people were injured in Syria. Earlier, 20 people were reported killed in rebel-held areas of Syria.
This raises the overall death toll to 195 in Turkey and Syria.
A building was destroyed following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Turkey Sunday night
Rescuers evacuate a victim from an eight-story building that collapsed after an 7.8-magnitude earthquake in southern Turkey
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter that ‘search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched’ to the areas hit by the quake
Tremors from the earthquake could be felt for miles outside of the epicenter
A view of destroyed apartment in Yurt neighborhood of Cukurova district after the earthquake in Adana, Turkey
The death toll across the region is expected to climb as rescue teams work through the night to find people trapped under collapsed buildings.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that ‘search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched’ to the areas hit by the devastating 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 he urged people 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.
Rescue workers and residents using flashlights were searching through piles of tangled metal and concrete rubble in one of the stricken cities. People on the street shouted up to others inside a partially toppled apartment building, leaning dangerously.
In northwest Syria, authorities in the region as ‘disastrous’ adding that entire buildings have collapsed and people are trapped under the rubble.
The civil defense urged people to evacuate buildings to gather in open areas.
Meanwhile, the governor of Turkey’s southeastern province of Sanliurfa province, Salih Ayhan, said on Twitter, ‘we have destroyed buildings’ and urged people to move to safe locations.
A view of the destroyed building after earthquakes jolts Turkiye’s provinces
It’s believed that the death toll will rise into the hundreds
People attempt to save those crushed under rubble following the earthquake
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered about 20 miles from Gaziantep, a major city and provincial capital.
Its epicenter was 11 miles deep, and a strong 6.7 aftershock 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.
The US Geological Survey put it at 7.8.
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.
A view of the destroyed building after 7.8 magnitude earthquake jolts the region
Buildings have collapsed during the tremors
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook central Turkey early Monday and was followed by a strong aftershock
The earthquake came as the Middle East is experiencing a snowstorm that is expected to continue until Thursday
Syria’s state media reported that some buildings collapsed in the northern city of Aleppo and the central city of Hama.
In Damascus, buildings shook and many people went down to the streets in fear.
‘Paintings fell off the walls in the house,’ said Samer, a resident of the Syrian city.
‘I woke up terrified. Now we’re all dressed and standing at the door.’
In Lebanon, the quake jolted residents from their beds, shaking buildings for about 40 seconds. Many residents of Beirut left their homes and took to the streets or drove in their cars away from buildings.
The earthquake came as the Middle East is experiencing a snowstorm that is expected to continue until Thursday.
The head of the Turkish Red Cross said it was mobilizing resources for the region as it had received information of serious damage and collapsed buildings, and urged people to evacuate damaged homes.
The country sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes.
Some 18,000 were killed in powerful earthquakes that hit northwest Turkey in 1999.
Vehicles are smashed as buildings tumble during the earthquake
Devastation and clean up crews seen in the Gaziantep province
A collapsed building is seen following an earthquake in Pazarcik, in Kahramanmaras province, southern Turkey