A powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Turkey on Sunday collapsing about 45 buildings, and could leave between 500-1000 people killed and many more injured, Turkey’s seismological service says.
For the time being at least 60 deaths have been confirmed by the local authorities, RIA-Novosti news agency reports.
The massive tremor crumbled some 25-30 apartment buildings and one dormitory in the eastern town of Ercis, the Turkish Red Crescent reports. Turkish state TV reports that at least 30 people were killed in the town and some 150 were injured.
“A lot of buildings collapsed, many people were killed, but we don’t know the number. We are waiting for emergency help. It’s urgent,” Zulfukar Arapoglu, the mayor of Ercis district, told NTV broadcaster.
At least 10 buildings in the city of Van have also collapsed. Some 50 people were taken to hospitals there.
“We are estimating a death toll between 500 and 1,000,” Mustafa Erdik, head of the Kandilli Observatory, told a news conference. The seismological service’s estimate is based on the strength of the quake and the structure of the housing in the area.
Two military C-130s have taken off from capital Ankara for Van, carrying aid and supplies, Hurriyet Daily News reports.
The earthquake was also felt in neighboring Armenia and Iran.
According to the US Geological Survey the epicenter of the tremor was located at a depth of 20km, some 17km from the city of Van in Turkey’s Van province.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is heading to the quake-hit area, Turkish media reports.