Turkey: 22 killed, more than 1,000 injured after 6.8 magnitude earthquake

BREAKING: At least 22 people have died and more than 1,000 were injured after an earthquake struck eastern Turkey.

The temblor, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 struck around 8:55 p.m. local time in eastern Elazig province.

The quake was felt as far away as Israel, where residents in Petah Tikva, Holon, Yavne and Beer Sheva reported feeling the temblor.

Turkey 8 killed, more than 300 injured after 6.8 magnitude earthquake (2)

The massive tremor could be felt also in several parts of neighboring Syria and in Lebanon, in the cities of Beirut and Tripoli.

Preliminary reports say the earthquake lasted 40 seconds.

It was followed by several aftershocks, the strongest with magnitudes of 5.4 and 5.1.

The quake’s epicenter was near the small town of Sivrice, which has a population of around 4,000. The larger town of Elazig, which has a population of 300,000, is around 25 miles away.

Rescue workers continue to search for some 30 people buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings in Elazig province and neighboring Malatya, said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. He warned that the death toll could rise.

Rescue teams from neighboring provinces were dispatched to the affected areas, working in the dark with floodlights in the freezing cold, and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said troops were on standby to help.

Hundreds of residents were left homeless or with damaged homes.

Turkish aid organizations said they had sent teams to affected areas and Interior Minister Süleyman 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.

Turkey 8 killed, more than 300 injured after 6.8 magnitude earthquake (3)

Turkey 8 killed, more than 300 injured after 6.8 magnitude earthquake (4)