At least 1,121 people died Monday in Türkiye when a major 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck the southeast of the country, local officials said.
Officials said 1,121 people were killed and 7,634 injured in the provinces of Malatya, Şanlıurfa, Osmaniye and Diyarbakır, although the toll threatened to climb much higher because of the heavy damage.
According to the country's disaster agency, the strong earthquake originated in the southern province of Kahramanmaraş.
Türkiye’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said the 7.7 magnitude quake struck at 4.17 a.m. (1:17 a.m. GMT) and was centered in the Pazarcık district.
The quake occurred at a depth of 7 kilometers (4.3 miles).
It was followed by a magnitude 6.4 quake that struck southeastern Gaziantep province.
A third earthquake with a 6.5 magnitude also hit Gaziantep.
The initial earthquake was also felt in other southeastern provinces, including Diyarbakır and neighboring countries including Lebanon and Syria.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took to Twitter to convey get-well wishes to citizens affected by the initial earthquake.
He added that AFAD and other units are "on alert.”
He noted that rescue teams were immediately dispatched to the province affected by the earthquake.
"Our Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Health, the AFAD, provincial governorships and all other institutions started their work rapidly."
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who arrived to the Presidency of AFAD to coordinate the studies regarding the 7.7 magnitude earthquake, stated that Türkiye was shaken by the biggest disaster since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake in the last century, and noted: ''According to the findings so far, 1,014 of our citizens have lost their lives and 7,634 of our citizens have been injured. The number of people rescued from under the rubble has reached 2,470. The number of buildings found to be destroyed is 2,834."
''Its center was determined as Pazarcık district of Kahramanmaraş and its moment magnitude was measured as 7.7 according to the last evaluation. The earthquake was felt over a wide area,'' the president said.
"The earthquake caused destruction in Kahramanmaraş, as well as in Hatay, Gaziantep, Kilis, Osmaniye, Malatya, Adıyaman, Diyarbakır, Şanlıurfa, Adana provinces,'' Erdoğan noted.
''Despite minor damage in other provinces relatively close to the earthquake center, it is understood that the real destruction has taken place here. Serious destructions have also occurred in the cities of our southern neighbor Syria, close to our borders. Our state has taken action with all its institutions since the earthquake.''
"We are also coordinating our work after the earthquake. We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage and we will continue our work."
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu also said that six earthquakes with a magnitude above 6.0 hit the country early Monday.
A powerful earthquake killed dozens and injured hundreds in northern and western Syria early on Monday, state media said, as rescue teams battled heavy rain and sleet in a search for survivors in the rubble of collapsed buildings.
More than 783 people were killed and thousands injured in the Syrian regions of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia, the state news agency (SANA) said.
Syrian civil defense in opposition-held northwestern Idlib said the quake killed tens of people and injured hundreds in the areas where it operates.
"No official numbers yet but dozens reported dead and hundreds injured, many trapped under the rubble," the force, known as the White Helmets, said in a Twitter message.
Many buildings in the affected areas had already suffered damage in fighting during Syria's nearly 12-year civil war. (Daily Sabah)
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