Earthquake in Eastern Turkey Kills at Least 21 People

A magnitude 6.8 earthquake in Turkey’s eastern Elazig province late Friday killed at least 21 people and injured hundreds. About 30 people remain under the rubble of collapsed buildings, the NTV news channel said on Saturday.

Four buildings were wrecked in the Elazig city center, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said in a statement on its website. Twelve of the hundreds of aftershocks had a magnitude of over 4, AFAD said. The Elazig Airport is operative and communication is back to normal after an initial disruption, according to the agency.

The earthquake occurred at 8:55 p.m. local time on Friday at a depth of 6.75 kilometers (4.2 miles) on the East Anatolia Fault Line. Tremors were felt in many cities across the region, Turkish TV outlets reported.

In a Twitter post, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was following the rescue efforts closely. “We’re with our nation, with all our institutions,” Erdogan said.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, Environment & Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca were in Elazig on Saturday to coordinate rescue efforts.

Turkey is situated in a seismically active area and is among countries, including China and Iran, that can experience catastrophic earthquakes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. In 1999, a 7.5-magnitude quake shook the western Marmara region killing thousands of people and damaging more than 300,000 buildings. Turkish GDP contracted 3.4% that year.

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