ANKARA: About 1,000 people may have died in the 7.3-magnitude quake which hit Turkey’s southeastern province of Van on Sunday, an official said.
The magnitude-7.3 quake’s epicentre, with a depth of 7.20 km, was initially determined to be at 38.6270 degrees north latitude and 43.5349 degrees east longitude, the US Geological Survey said.
“The toll from this earthquake could be 500 to 1,000,” Xinhua quoted Mr Mustafa Erdik, the head of the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute in Istanbul, as saying.
The Turkish earthquake observatory, however, put the quake’s magnitude at 7.2 on the Richter scale.
The Kandilli centre originally reported that the earthquake was 6.6 on the Richter scale, but later corrected it to 7.2 on the Richter scale.
The earthquake damaged several buildings in the Van province, but the most serious damage was in the neighbouring town of Ercis. Several strong aftershocks were also reported.
The Turkey Prime Minister, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to visit the area shortly to assess the situation.
Over 500 search, rescue and health personnel have been sent to Van from nearly 40 provinces, said Prime Ministry’s Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate in a release.
“There are so many dead. Several buildings have collapsed, there is so much destruction,” Mr Zulfikar Arapoglu, the mayor of Ercis, told NTV television. “We need urgent aid, we need medics.”
Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mr Besir Atalay earlier said that 25 to 30 buildings collapsed in the town of Ercis.
Residents spilled out into the streets in panic as rescue workers struggled to save people believed to be trapped under collapsed buildings, the television footage showed.
Turkish Red Crescent is sending tents, blankets and other aid materials to the quake-hit province despite ongoing aftershocks, according to Anatolia reports.
Some people were trapped under debris of buildings in central Van, it added.