BAKU, Azerbaijan, Jan. 25
A powerful earthquake struck eastern Turkey on Friday, killing 18 people and damaging buildings near the epicenter of the tremor, which was felt in several neighboring countries.
The magnitude 6.8 quake hit Elazig province, about 550 km (340 miles) east of the capital, Ankara, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said. It was followed by dozens of aftershocks.
State broadcaster TRT showed footage of police and emergency workers searching a partly collapsed building in Elazig. Windows were smashed and balconies had crashed to the ground.
At another collapsed building, teams from Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) worked with their hands to remove bricks and plaster from the ruins.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu described the earthquake as a ‘level 3’ incident according to the country’s emergency response plan. This means it requires assistance at the national level but is one stage short of needing international help.
The quake struck in a remote, relatively sparsely populated area and it could take some time for authorities to establish the full extent of damage.
AFAD officials warned residents not to return to damaged buildings because of the danger of further aftershocks. It said beds, blankets and tents were being sent to the area, where the overnight temperature was below 0 degrees Celsius.
State media in Syria and Iran both reported the earthquake was felt in those countries. Local media in Lebanon said the cities of Beirut and Tripoli also felt the quake.