An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.7 rocked eastern Turkey on Friday, killing at least 18 people and causing some buildings to collapse. The quake injured more than 500 and left approximately 30 trapped in toppled buildings, Turkish officials said.
The quake struck at 8:55 p.m. local time near the town of Sivrice in the eastern Elazig province, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said. It was followed by several aftershocks, the strongest with magnitudes 5.4 and 5.1.
Elazig is some 465 miles east of the capital, Ankara.
Governor Cetin Oktay Kaldirim told NTV television that three people died in the province. State-run Anadolu Agency quoted Governor Aydin Barus as saying five other people died in his nearby Malatya province.
At least 225 people were injured in Elazig and 90 in Malatya. Kaldirim said a fire broke out in a building in Sivrice but was quickly brought under control. People in Elazig whose homes were damaged or were too afraid to go indoors were being moved to student dormitories or sports center amid freezing conditions.
Earlier, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told NTV television that rescuers were trying to reach survivors after a four- or five-story building collapsed in the town of Maden, in Elazig. Approximately 4-5 buildings collapsed in Sivrice, where two people were hurt, he said.
Local administrator Cuma Telceken said up to seven people are believed to be trapped inside two collapsed buildings in Maden. Television footage showed rescuers searching for survivors among debris.
Rescue teams from neighboring provinces were dispatched to the affected areas, Anadolu Agency reported. Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said troops were on standby to help if needed.
The Kandilli seismology center in Istanbul said the quake measured 6.5., while the U.S. Geological Survey gave the preliminary magnitude as 6.7, and said the quake affected not only Turkey but also Syria, Georgia and Armenia.
Different earthquake monitoring centers frequently give differing estimates.
Turkey sits on top of two major fault-lines and earthquakes are frequent. Two strong earthquakes struck northwest Turkey in 1999, killing around 18,000 people.
A magnitude 6 earthquake killed 51 people in Elazig in 2010.