A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake early Monday killed at least 76 people in southern Turkey and dozens more in northern Syria.
Search and rescue crews worked to find people among buildings toppled by the quake that also injured hundreds more, according to Turkey’s emergency service. Turkey appealed for international help.
“We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted.
Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said there were more than 20 aftershocks. He said the earthquake affected at least 10 provinces in Turkey and that he and other Cabinet members were going to those areas.
The epicenter of the earthquake was located near Gaziantep, a key industrial and manufacturing hub close to the Turkey-Syria border. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, people reported feeling the tremors in Lebanon and Cyprus as well.
In the Turkish city of Mersin, resident Nurhan Kiral told VOA’s Turkish service that the earthquake lasted about a minute.
“We woke up with the tremor and got out of the bed. Rubble fell from the chimney. Rubble fell from the empty space between the buildings. It was terrifying,” Kiral said.
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said President Joe Biden directed the U.S. Agency for International Development and other federal partners “to assess U.S. response options to help those most affected.”
“The United States is profoundly concerned by the reports of today’s destructive earthquake in Turkiye and Syria. We stand ready to provide any and all needed assistance,” Sullivan said in a statement.
Turkey is in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones.
In 1999, 17,000 people were killed when a 7.4-magnitude earthquake — the worst to hit Turkey in decades — struck near Duzce, in the northwest of the country.
In October 2022, a magnitude-7.0 quake hit the Aegean Sea, killing 116 people and wounding more than 1,000. All but two of the victims were in Izmir, Turkey.
Some material for this article came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.