Turkey Earthquake: Worst disaster in decades, says President Erdogan

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit south-eastern Turkey, near the Syrian border, causing devastation and the death toll has exceeded 2,300 people across both countries.

Seismologists said the first quake was one of the largest ever recorded in Turkey.

The US Geological Survey said the 7.8 magnitude tremor struck at 04:17 local time (01:17 GMT) at a depth of 17.9km (11 miles) near the city of Gaziantep.

Survivors said it lasted for about two minutes.

Twelve hours later, a second quake was triggered with a magnitude of 7.5, with its epicentre in the Elbistan district of Kahramanmaras province.

Several videos show buildings that were four or five storeys high collapsing as roads were destroyed to rubble as well.

Among the buildings destroyed was the more than 2000-years-old Gaziantep Castle, a historical landmark.

Turkey lies in one of the world’s most seismically active zones, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calling Monday’s disaster the worst the country had seen since 1939, when 33000 people lost their lives int the Erzincan earthquake in eastern Turkey.

The earthquake was powerful enough to be felt as far away as Cyprus, Lebanon and Israel.

The country’s energy infrastructure also took a hit, as videos have emerged showing large fires in the southern parts, as social media users claimed they were caused by damage to gas pipelines from the strong tremors.

Many thousands of people have been injured, at least 5,385 people in Turkey and 2,000 in Syria. Those numbers, along with the death toll, are unfortunately still expected to rise, as rescuers comb through mountains of rubble in freezing, snowy weather.

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