Turkey earthquake: Rescue efforts under way

Search and rescue efforts are under way after a powerful earthquake struck eastern Turkey, killing 29 people and injuring more than 1,100 others.

Speaking at a televised news conference, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Saturday that 18 people were killed in Elazig province, where the quake was centred, and four in neighbouring Malatya.

The national disaster agency later updated the total with seven more fatalities.

The magnitude 6.8 quake that struck on Friday evening had its epicentre in the small lakeside town of Sivrice in Elazig province and was felt in neighbouring countries. Elazig is some 750km (465 miles) east of the capital, Ankara.

At least 40 people have been rescued from collapsed buildings. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said around 1,103 people were injured, with 34 of them in intensive care but not in a critical condition.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and leading members of his cabinet arrived in Elazig on Saturday afternoon.

The president also attended a funeral for a woman and her son killed in the quake, which he described as a “test” for Turkey.

“We are doing everything we can as the state and nation, and we will continue to do so. Our efforts at all rescue sites will continue,” Erdogan said at the funeral.

The quake struck at 8:55pm local time (17:55 GMT), at a depth of 6.7km (4.1 miles), the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said. It was followed by several aftershocks, the strongest with magnitude 5.4, the disaster agency said.

Some 30 buildings collapsed in the two provinces, according to Murat Kurum, the environment minister.

Hundreds of residents were left homeless. AFAD said 28 rescue teams were deployed and unmanned drones were used to survey damaged neighbourhoods and coordinate rescue efforts.

Turkey sits on top of two major faultlines and earthquakes are frequent. Two strong earthquakes struck northwest Turkey in 1999, killing around 18,000 people. 

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake killed 51 people in Elazig in 2010.


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