Over 1,400 people dead after earthquake hits Turkey, Syria


Over 1,400 people have died and thousands have been injured after earthquake hit central Turkey and northwest Syria.

The  magnitude 7.8 quake, which hit in the early darkness of Monday morning, has also destroyed  buildings in the two countries.

The epicentre of the quake was near the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep but the quake was felt across Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Israel.

The earthquake was followed in the early afternoon by another large quake, magnitude 7.7 which hit as rescue workers were struggling to pull casualties from rubble.

An official from Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority told the BBC that the second earthquake  was “not an aftershock” and was “independent” from the first.

Speaking to Reuters, Meryem, 29, from the southeastern Turkish city of Kahramanmaras said: “We woke up to a big noise and severe shaking. There were two aftershocks right after that.

“I was so scared, thought it will never stop. I took some things for my one-year old son and left the building.”

Reuters reported that footage circulated on Twitter showed two neighbouring buildings collapsing one after the other in Syria’s Aleppo, filling the street with billowing dust. 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said 912 people were killed, 5,383 injured, and 2,818 buildings had collapsed in Turkey.

Erdogan said he could not predict how much the death toll would rise as search and rescue efforts continued, Reuters reported.

“Everyone is putting their heart and soul into efforts although winter season, cold weather and the earthquake happening during the night makes things more difficult,” he said.

In Syria, a country already devastated by more than 11 years of civil war, the health ministry said more than 326 people had been killed and 1,042 injured. In the Syrian rebel-held northwest, rescuers said 221 people had died.

World leaders have since pledged to send aid after Turkey issued an international appeal for help

The earthquake was Turkey’s most severe quake since 1999, when one of similar magnitude devastated Izmit and the heavily populated eastern Marmara Sea region near Istanbul, killing more than 17,000.

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