At least 640 people has been killed in Turkey and Syria after a powerful earthquake struck southern Turkey, close to the Syrian border, on Monday.
Although authorities said the toll is expected to rise, Turkish media reported 284 people were confirmed dead while around 2,323 others were hurt.
At least 130 buildings tumbled down in Malatya province, while 16 collapsed in Diyarbakir. Search for survivors trapped under the rubble is underway.
Tremors were also felt in the Turkish capital of Ankara, 460 km northwest of the epicentre. In the wake of the quake, Turkish authorities have declared a “level 4 alarm” that calls for international assistance.
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.
In northern Syria, officials said at least 237 people were killed and over 600 injured, Several buildings were flattened in Aleppo. The tremors were so strong that they were felt as far away as Lebanon and Cyprus.
“The earthquake toll rose to 237 killed and 639 injured,” Ahmed Damiriyye, an aide to Syria’s health minister, said on Syrian state television.
US Geological Survey reported that a powerful earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck southern Turkey in the wee hours of Monday, followed by another strong temblor of magnitude 6.7.
The initial quake was centered 26 km east of Nurdagi city in the Gaziantep province, at a depth of 17.9 km. The second one struck minutes later in central Turkey, at a depth of 9.9 km.
The tremor lasted about a minute and shattered windows, according to a Reuters witness in Diyarbakir, 350 km to the east.
“We were shaken like a cradle. There were nine of us at home. Two sons of mine are still in the rubble, I’m waiting for them,” a woman, whose seven-storey apartment in Diyarbakir tumbled down, told Reuters.
Locals news in both countries reported that multiple buildings had collapsed due to the quake and many people were feared trapped in the wreckage.
Videos shared on Twitter, whose authenticity could not be verified, showed buildings reduced to rubble and people screaming and running for dear life.
Watch the videos below:
In #Sanliurfa the moment a building collapsed recorded by mobile phone hours after 7.8 #earthquake hits Turkey. #deprem pic.twitter.com/YDc8DH9lbn
— JournoTurk (@journoturk) February 6, 2023
SYRIA: Catastrophic scenes from Aleppo during the earthquake depict the collapsing of buildings. pic.twitter.com/vOrfH29cQD
— Truthseeker (@Xx17965797N) February 6, 2023
The level of destruction caused by the earthquake in Turkey makes it look like a war zone. This is utterly heartbreaking. Pray for Turkey and especially for the people trapped under the rubble. pic.twitter.com/PeqPXoNKlF
— KC (@kci2013) February 6, 2023
Terrible earth quake in Turkey and Syrian.
Video Syrian city Hamim, nothing left.
— Lord Bebo (@MyLordBebo) February 6, 2023
🎥1 Scary footage of how the #earthquake struck #Turkey last night.
🎥2 A 6-story building in Urfa, Turkey falls over after earthquake
As per estimate over 1700 buildings have been destroyed with over 800 deaths
PM Modi extends condolences and offers help to all effected pic.twitter.com/B9CSpvRh2J
— Megh Updates 🚨™ (@MeghUpdates) February 6, 2023
KanyiDaily recalls that had also reported how over 21 people died including a young family of four after a devastating 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit Italy overnight.