Powerful quake kills dozens in Turkey and Syria

A massive earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria, tearing down buildings in several cities and killing dozens of people.

Turkey’s disaster agency said 76 had been killed and 440 injured in the earthquake, which hit at 4.17am local time. The quake measured a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale, with its epicentre in the province of Kahramanmaraş, according to the US Geological Survey.

Interior minister Süleyman Soylu said in televised remarks that Turkey was ready to accept international aid in response to the quake and had dispatched rescue teams, with the military and cargo planes carrying supplies to the region.

Syrian state media reported that 42 people had been killed and 200 people injured in the northern provinces of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia.

In Turkey, 12 people were killed in the city of Şanlıurfa, some 200km east of the epicentre, broadcaster Habertürk cited the provincial governor Salih Ayhan as saying. In Malatya, 185km to the north-east, three bodies were recovered from some of the 140 buildings that had collapsed, Habertürk said. Five people were killed in Osmaniye province, Reuters reported.

Buildings in the provinces of Diyarbakir and Adana also came down, officials said, indicating that the trail of affected areas spanned at least 500km across south-east Turkey.

Television channels showed footage of rescue workers digging through rubble as snow fell in the town of Pazarcık, where the quake was centred.

Residents in several Turkish provinces fled on to the streets overnight in near-freezing temperatures and rain and snow, according to witnesses.

At least 22 aftershocks had hit the region, with the most powerful measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale, Soylu said.

Turkey is criss-crossed by faultlines, and small tremors are a near-daily occurrence.

In 1999, a quake measuring 7.6 struck Istanbul and surrounding provinces, killing more than 17,000 people.

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