Powerful Quake Kills at Least 20, Injures More Than 1,000 in Eastern Turkey

ELAZIG, TURKEY — A powerful earthquake has killed at least 20 people and injured more than 1,000 in eastern Turkey, as rescue teams searched through the rubble of collapsed buildings for survivors Saturday.At least 30 people were missing following the magnitude 6.8 quake Friday night, which had its epicenter in the small lakeside town of Sivrice in the eastern province of Elazig.“It was very scary, furniture fell on top of us. We rushed outside,” 47-year-old Melahat Can, who lives in the provincial capital of Elazig, told AFP.President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said all steps were being taken to aid people affected by the quake, which caused widespread fear.“We stand by our people,” Erdogan said on Twitter.Turkish officials and police try to keep warm at the scene of a collapsed building following a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Elazig, eastern Turkey, Jan. 24, 2020.Emergency staff and people waiting at the scene lit fires in the streets to stay warm in freezing temperatures.Sports centers, schools and guest houses had been opened to accommodate quake victims in Malatya.Sivrice, a town with a population of about 4,000 people, is situated south of Elazig city on the shores of Hazar lake, one of the most popular tourist spots in the region and the source of the Tigris River.The lake is home to a sunken city with archaeological traces dating back 4,000 years in its waters.The tremor was felt in several parts of eastern Turkey near the Iraqi and Syrian borders, the Turkish broadcaster NTV reported, adding that neighboring cities had mobilized rescue teams for the quake area.Ramazan Emek surveys the damage in Cevrimtas, near Sivrice, where the quake struck just before 9 p.m. Friday local time. (Mahmut Bozarslan/VOA Turkish)“Everybody is in the street, it was very powerful, very scary,” said Zekeriya Gunes, 68, from Elazig city, after the quakes caused a building to collapse on her street.“It lasted quite long, maybe 30 seconds,” added Ferda, 39. “I panicked and was undecided whether to go out in this cold or remain inside.”Greece offers aidThe U.S. Geological Survey assessed the magnitude as 6.7, slightly lower than AFAD, adding that it struck near the East Anatolian Fault in an area that has suffered no documented large ruptures since an earthquake in 1875.“My wholehearted sympathy to President @RTErdogan and the Turkish people following the devastating earthquake that has hit Turkey. Our search and rescue teams stand ready to assist,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wrote on Twitter.In Athens, the Greek premier’s office said later that Mitsotakis had spoken by phone to Erdogan.“The Turkish president … said Turkish teams had the situation under control for now and that it would be re-evaluated in the morning,” his office added.A calf stands next to its mother, which has a broken leg, in the village of Cevrimtas, near Sivrice, Elazig, Turkey, Jan. 25, 2020. (Mahmut Bozarslan/VOA Turkish)Quake-prone TurkeyIn 1999, a devastating 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Izmit in western Turkey, leaving more than 17,000 people dead including about 1,000 in the country’s largest city Istanbul.Last September, a 5.7-magnitude earthquake shook Istanbul, causing residents to flee buildings.Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate the city of 15 million people, which has allowed widespread building without safety precautions.

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