At least 18 people died and another 553 were injured by the 6.5 magnitude earthquake that shook southeastern Turkey on Friday and caused the collapse of a dozen buildings, in one of which there are 30 trapped.
The earthquake occurred at 17.55 GMT and the epicenter was found near the town of Sivrice, about 10,000 inhabitants, in the eastern province of Elazig, according to the Anadolu news agency.
“The death toll in the Elazig earthquake increased to 18, 405 people were injured in that province and another 148 in (the province of) Malatya,” Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu told reporters.
“We are trying our best to rescue 30 people trapped in a collapsed building,” the Turkish minister added.
Soylu said that at least a dozen buildings had collapsed and registered up to 30 aftershocks after the quake, the most powerful of them of magnitude 5.4.
Night and low temperatures complicate rescue work in the region where the earthquake occurred, where hundreds of rescue personnel, firefighters and security forces are already deployed.
“Our institutions are taking all necessary measures to overcome the earthquake that occurred in Elazig with the lowest losses and ensure the safety of our citizens,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his Twitter account.
In the images that circulate in the Turkish media and social networks, there are damages in homes and vehicles in the province of Elazig, and panic scenes with people running to the street to be safe during the seismic movement.
Other images show partially demolished buildings and firefighters deployed on site. The closed night in Turkey also makes operations and damage assessment difficult.
There have also been fires located due to the breakage of the gas system in some cities of Elazig.
The epicenter is located about 6.75 kilometers from the surface. Although initially it was awarded a magnitude of 6.8, the seismographic center of Turkey lowered it to 6.5.
The earthquake occurred in a sparsely populated area with poor communications, so the authorities could still take time to quantify the damage.
Turkey is one of the countries with the highest seismic activity in the world because it is situated on several active faults, and dozens of earthquakes and minor aftershocks occur daily.
The most devastating earthquake of recent decades took place in 1999, when a 7.4 magnitude earthquake shook the Marmara region and caused some 17,000 deaths and 43,000 wounded.