ANKARA, Turkey — A 7.8 magnitude quake knocked down multiple buildings in southeast Turkey and Syria early Monday, and many casualties are feared.
At least 10 deaths were reported initially in Turkey.
In northwest Syria, the opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense described the situation in the rebel-held region as “disastrous” adding that entire buildings have collapsed and people are trapped under the rubble. The civil defense urged people to evacuate buildings to gather in open areas.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered about 20 miles from Gaziantep, a major city and provincial capital. It was centered 11 miles deep, and a strong 6.7 aftershock rumbled about 10 minutes later.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management agency, AFAD, said the quake measured 7.4 and was centered in the town of Pazarcik, in Kahramanmaras province.
In Sanliurfa, at least 10 deaths have been confirmed, according to Gov. Salih Ayhan.
The temblor was centered in the country’s Pazarcik district, in Kahramanmaras province, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency, which cited emergency management officials.
The outlet published a photo of a pancaked building, window coverings exposed to the air, furniture crushed, water fixtures detached from plumbing. Its location was not made clear.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the country’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority was ready to respond to requests for rescue and other forms of aid, according to Anadolu.
The temblor near the northern border of Syria was followed by that 6.7 earthquake roughly 11 minutes later, the survey said. The region is seismically active, it said, and the initial quake appears to be within the vicinity of a triple-junction of tectonics, between the Anatolia, Arabia and Africa plates, the USGS said.
The 7.8 quake originated 11 miles deep, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Turkish officials initially measured it at magnitude 7.4.
It was also felt in Lebanon and Syria.
The country continued to shake as aftershocks rumbled throughout the day. The USGS recorded subsequent temblors of magnitude 5.6, 5.1, and 5.2, in that order.
Syria’s state media reported that some buildings collapsed in the northern city of Aleppo and the central city of Hama.
In Syria’s rebel-held northwest that borders Turkey several buildings collapsed, according to the opposition’s Syrian civil Defense.
The quake jolted residents in Lebanon from beds, shaking buildings for about 40 seconds. Many residents of Beirut left their homes and took to the streets or drove in their cars away from buildings.
Turkey sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes; 18,000 people were killed in powerful earthquakes that hit northwest Turkey in 1999.
The recorded history of earthquakes in the region goes back hundreds of years, according to the USGS, which said Monday’s temblor happened in either the East Anatolia fault zone or the Dead Sea transform fault zone.
The last big shaker in the region took place on Jan. 24, 2020, and measured 6.7, the USGS said. It was northeast of Monday’s quake, it said.
Nearby Aleppo, Syria, was struck by what experts estimate was a magnitude 7.1 earthquake in 1138, the survey said. An estimated magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the same area of Syria in 1822, it said.