Turkey has experienced the “biggest disaster” since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said referring to a strong earthquake that hit southern provinces, claiming the lives of at least 1,651 people.
“Tonight at 04:17, we were shaken by the biggest disaster since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake that we underwent in the last century,” Erdogan said Monday in the capital Ankara.
President Erdogan announced seven days of national mourning.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said that the 7.7 magnitude quake struck at 4:17 am (0117 GMT) and was centred in the Pazarcik district of Kahramanmaras province on Monday.
AFAD earlier updated the intensity of the quake from 7.4 to 7.7 magnitude at 0955 GMT.
At least 1,651 people have been reported killed in Turkey, according to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, and 11,119 others were reported injured in the quakes that destroyed some 3,471 buildings.
The head of Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority says 6,445 people have been rescued from collapsed buildings after Monday’s earthquakes.
Orhan Tatar said at least 5,606 buildings have been destroyed after the quakes hit southeastern Turkey.
In Syria, state-run SANA news agency reported that at least 968 people were killed and over 2,400 others were wounded.
The quake killed at least 538 people and left at least another 1,353 injured in government-controlled parts of Syria, including the provinces of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartus, the health ministry said.
In rebel-held parts of the northwest of the country, at least 430 people were killed and more than 1,050 were injured, the White Helmets rescue group said, warning the toll could increase.