TEHRAN (Iran News) – A powerful quake with a magnitude of 6.8 hit eastern Turkey on Friday, killing at least 14 people, causing buildings to collapse and sending panicked residents rushing into the street.
Rescue teams were being sent to the scene of the quake, 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.
“We will spend the coming days in a farmhouse outside the city,” she said.
The Turkish government’s disaster and emergency management agency (AFAD) said the quake hit Sivrice at around 8.55 pm (1755 GMT).
The US Geological Survey assessed its magnitude at 6.7, and said it had a depth of 10 kilometers (about six miles).
Turkish television showed images of people stuck in apartments rushing outside in panic, as well as a fire on the roof of one building.
Turkey lies on major fault lines and is prone to frequent powerful quake.
AFAD said 30 aftershocks were recorded after Friday’s quake, adding that more than 400 rescue teams were directed toward the region.
Turkey’s leading communications companies announced they would provide residents in the quake region with internet and that phone calls would be free of charge.
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 archeologists finding archeological 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.
“We have sent four teams to the quake region,” Recep Salci of Turkey’s Search and Rescue Association (AKUT) told AFP.
“We have news of collapsed buildings, and are preparing more teams in case of need.”
The USGS said the quake struck near the East Anatolian Fault in an area that has no documented large rupture since an earthquake in 1875.
In 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.
In September last year, a 5.7-magnitude earthquake shook Istanbul, causing residents to flee buildings in the economic capital.
Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate the city of 15 million people, which has allowed widespread building without safety precautions.
- source : Iran Daily, Irannews