Up to 1,000 feared dead after powerful quake devastates eastern Turkey

October 23rd, 2011 - 6:08 pm ICT by BNO News  

VAN, TURKEY (BNO NEWS) — Hundreds of people are feared to have been killed after a powerful earthquake struck eastern Turkey on early Sunday afternoon, seismologists and officials said. Scores of buildings have been destroyed.

The 7.2-magnitude earthquake at 1.41 p.m. local time (1041 GMT) was centered about 17 kilometers (10 miles) north-northeast of Van, the capital of the province which carries the same name. It struck about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Tremors were felt throughout eastern Turkey and as far away as Armenia, Georgia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. The USGS estimated that more than 19.1 million people may have felt the earthquake, including some 406,000 people near the epicenter who may have perceived ‘violent’ to ‘extreme’ shaking.

“High casualties and extensive damage are probable and the disaster is likely widespread,” the USGS said on its website, adding that similar events in the past have required a national or international response.

Officials at Turkey’s Kandilli Observatory said the death toll was estimated to be between 500 and 1,000, although few specific numbers were available several hours after the earthquake. Footage from the region showed widespread devastation with scores of buildings completely collapsed.

The Turkish Red Crescent said at least 25 apartment buildings and a student dormitory were destroyed in the town of Ercis while up to A dozen buildings collapsed in the city of Van. The Red Crescent said search and rescue teams as well as supplies had been dispatched to the region.

Earlier this year, on May 19, two people were killed and around 120 others were injured when a moderate 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck near the town of Simav, which is located in the country’s Kutahya Province.

Last year, at least 42 people were killed and dozens more were injured when a 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck the eastern province of Elazig. And in August 1999, more than 17,000 people were killed and tens of thousands were injured when a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck western Turkey.

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