Istanbul: At least 95 people have been killed after a powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and Syria on Monday, with rescuers continuing to search for survivors.
The Turkish emergencies service centre initially put the magnitude of the quake at 7.4, and images on Turkish television and social media showed rescuers digging through the rubble of levelled buildings in cities across the region, including Kahramanmaras and neighbouring Gaziantep.
State media in Syria reported that a building near Latakia had collapsed, while pro-government media said several buildings had partially collapsed in Hama, central Syria.
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The earthquake was one of the most powerful to hit the region in at least a century, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeting: “I convey my best wishes to all our citizens who were affected by the earthquake”.
Turkey is one of the world’s most active earthquake zones, with the Turkish region of Duzce suffering a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in 1999 which killed more than 17,000 people, including about 1,000 in Istanbul.
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Earthquake experts have long warned a large quake could devastate Istanbul due to widespread building without safety precautions, and a magnitude-6.8 quake hit Elazig in January 2020, killing more than 40 people. In October last year, a magnitude-7.0 quake hit Turkey’s Aegean coast, killing 114 people and wounding more than 1,000.
The death toll from Monday’s earthquake is expected to climb higher as rescuers continue to search for survivors.