A powerful earthquake shook southeast Turkey on Sunday and at the time of going to press estimates of the toll and damage varied widely. While some estimates put the toll at 60, others said up to 1,000 people had been killed as the quake triggered the collapse of scores of buildings across the city of Van and its surrounding districts.
Emergency workers battled to rescue people trapped in buildings.
The Kandilli Observatory, which initially cited a magnitude of 6.6, said the earthquake struck at 1041 GMT and was 5km deep.
The US Geological Survey reported that the magnitude was 7.6. The quake’s epicentre was at the village of Tabanli, 20km north of Van.
Some 10 buildings collapsed in Van and about 25-30 buildings were brought to the ground in the nearby district of Ercis, deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay told reporters.
“We estimate around 1,000 buildings are damaged and hundreds of lives lost. It could be 500 or 1,000,” Kandilli Observatory general manager Mustafa Erdik said.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was travelling to Van and the Cabinet is expected to discuss the quake at a meeting called for Monday morning.
“We heard cries and groaning from underneath the debris, we are waiting for the rescue teams to arrive,” Halil Celik saisaid, as he stood beside the ruins of building.
“We don’t know the number of people who have died. We are waiting for emergency help, it’s very urgent,” Zulfukar Arapoglu, mayor of Ercis, told said.
Turkey’s Red Crescent said one of its local teams was helping to rescue people from a student residence in Ercis.
More than 20 aftershocks shook the area, further unsettling residents who ran out on the streets when the initial strong quake struck.