Powerful quake hits eastern Turkey, four dead

Clay Curtis
January 25, 2020

At least four people were killed and several buildings collapsed after a powerful natural disaster of magnitude 6.9 struck eastern Turkey on Friday, news agency AFP reported.

The tremblor, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 struck at around 8:55 p.m. local time (12:55 p.m. ET) in eastern Elazig province, the country's emergency management agency said.

The U.S. Geological Survey assessed its magnitude at 6.7, and said it had a depth of 10 kilometers (about six miles). A video take at the scene shows residents running after the quake hit and emergency vehicles near a damaged building.

Turkish television showed images of people stuck in apartments rushing outside in panic, as well as a fire on the roof of one building.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said two of the victims were killed in Elazig province and two in nearby Malatya province, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.

At another collapsed building, teams worked with their hands to remove bricks and plaster from the ruins.

Teams from the Israeli army provided rescue and medical services after that quake.

Turkish Airlines said it would conduct additional flights to Elazig province in a bid to ease transportation to the region.

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Soylu described the natural disaster as a "Level 3" incident according to the country's emergency response plan, meaning that it called for a national response but did not require global help.

He said the ministers for the interior, health and the environment were sent to the afflicted region.

"We have sent four teams to the quake region", Recep Salci of Turkey's Search and Rescue Association told AFP.

Zekeriya Gunes, 68, a resident of Elazig city, said a building 200 metres down on his street had collapsed but he did not know whether it was inhabited.

Turkish agencies, commercial outlets and rescue teams were quick to extend a helping hand after a 6.8-magnitude quake hit eastern Elazig province late Friday.

"Everybody is in the street, it was very powerful, very scary", he said. Two strong earthquakes struck north-west Turkey in 1999, killing around 18,000 people.

The magnitude 6.8 quake shook Elazig province, about 550km east of the capital Ankara, and was followed by dozens of aftershocks.

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