Istanbul, Turkey, Feb 6: At least 118 people were killed in two countries after one of the strongest earthquakes to hit Turkey in more than 100 years sent tremors across the region, collapsing buildings and sending residents running into the streets. The 7.8-magnitude quake struck 23 kilometers (14.2 miles) east of Nurdagi, Gaziantep province, at a depth of 24.1 kilometers (14.9 miles), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said. Nurdagi is located along the Turkey-Syria border, and the quake was felt in several countries across the region, including Syria and Lebanon.
At least 76 people were killed and more than 440 injured in Turkey, according to the country’s disaster management agency AFAD. In neighboring Syria, at least 42 people died and around 200 more were injured, Syrian state run news agency SANA reported, citing a Health Ministry official. In Syria, the deaths were reported in Aleppo, Hama and Latakia, SANA said. Dozens of people are trapped under rubble, according to the “White Helmets” group, officially known as Syria Civil Defense.
The quake struck while residents were likely asleep and unprepared for the impact. Video shared on social media showed dozens of collapsed buildings, while frightened residents huddled on the darkened streets amid the chaos. Rescue workers can be seen conducting search-and-rescue operations by flashlight. Monday’s quake is believed to be the strongest to hit Turkey since 1939, when an earthquake of the same magnitude killed 30,000 people, according to the USGS. Earthquakes of this magnitude are rare, with fewer than five occurring each year on average, anywhere in the world. Seven quakes with magnitude 7.0 or greater have struck Turkey in the past 25 years – but Monday’s is the most powerful. (Agencies)