ANKARA (TURKEY) — A major earthquake of magnitude 7.8 struck central Turkey and north-west Syria early on Monday morning, killing at least 1,200 people and injuring thousands as buildings collapsed across the region, triggering searches for survivors in the rubble.
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said 912 people had been killed in Turkey, with 5,383 wounded. He said authorities were unable to predict how high the toll may rise as search and rescue operations continued, Reuters report. He said 45 countries had so far offered assistance.
Syria’s state news agency reported more than 320 dead in the country, with over 1,000 wounded. The White Helmets rescue service reported that 147 people had died and more than 340 were injured in Syria in areas where it operates, which are unlikely to have been included in the official state figures.
The quake hit at 4:17 AM local time (0117 GMT) and was felt in Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece and Israel. The quake was centered about 32 km (20 miles) from Gaziantep, a major city and provincial capital in the country’s southeast, and about 26 km (16 miles) from the town of Nurdağı.
It was 17.7 km (11 miles) deep, according to the US Geological Survey. A strong 6.7 temblor rumbled about 10 minutes later.
Erdoğan spoke by telephone with the governors of eight affected provinces to gather information on the situation and rescue efforts, his office said in a statement.
The Turkish interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, said 10 cities had been affected by the quake. Speaking to reporters on Monday, the official said the cities of Gaziantep, Kahramanmaraş, Hatay, Osmaniye, Adıyaman, Malatya, Şanlıurfa, Adana, Diyarbakır and Kilis had all suffered damage.