The death toll from the powerful earthquake that on Sunday rocked southeastern Turkey may reach up to 1,000 people, the country’s Kandilli Observatory said.
The 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the city at 13:40 local time (10:40 a.m. GMT), the U.S. Geological Survey said. Its epicenter was located at a depth of 20 kilometers.
The termor completely ruined 50 apartment buildings, including a dormitory in Van as well as the neighboring town of Ercis, the Kandilli Observatory said. About 1,000 buildings have been crippled.
However, Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay told reporters some 10 buildings had collapsed in Van and about 25-30 buildings collapsed in the nearby district of Ercis.
Several strong aftershocks were also reported.
“There are so many dead. Several buildings have collapsed, there is too much destruction,” Zulfikar Arapoglu, the mayor of Ercis told NTV television, but did not specify the number of dead. “We need urgent aid, we need medics.”
Resquers with humanitarian aid can not reach Van, as the quake has crippled the city’s airport, the Turkish Red Crescent said.
According to local media, more than 200 people have been treated for injuries.
Residents flocked into the streets as rescue workers struggled to evacuate people, believed to be trapped under collapsed buildings, television footage showed.
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