Deadly Earthquake Hits Van City
Rudaw.net - A powerful earthquake shook the Kurdish city of Van in eastern Turkey on Sunday and around 138 people are confirmed dead and hundreds more injured.
The earthquake that was of 7.2 magnitude destroyed scores of buildings in the close vicinities of Van. Officials expect the death toll to rise as a nighttime search is under way to find survivors.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan visited the city of Van to view the damage. Erdogan’s office released a statement to the media, saying, "The quake was strongly felt in Van and neighboring towns and caused damage and deaths, based on initial assessments,"
The brunt of the earthquake was felt in the town of Ercis north of Van where it accounted for most of the casualties.
A local resident in Ercis told AFP news agency, "An eight-storey apartment building collapsed,"
"There are efforts to rescue people but the loss is big. I myself saw three to four dead," he added.
Search and rescue teams were dispatched to the affected areas from all parts of Turkey. Mayor Zulfikar Arapoglu appealed for help. "We need urgent aid, we need medics," he said.
Officials from the Turkish Red Crescent, said aid teams are being sent to the earthquake-hit area carrying with them blankets, food and water and tents for the survivors.
Night fall and cold make the work of rescuers difficult as hundreds of people are feared trapped under the rubble and collapsed buildings while hundreds have been driven out of their homes.
The head of Turkey's seismology institute told the media that hundreds of people could have been killed.
"We estimate around 1,000 buildings are damaged and our estimate is for hundreds of lives lost - it could be 500 or 1,000," Mustafa Erdik, general manager of the Kandilli Observatory told the BBC.
AFP reported that some 200 inmates fled the prison in Van province, when the building was damaged in the quake. But 50 of the inmates returned to prison later after seeing their families.
Kurdish MP and chairman of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Selahattin Demirtas visited the city of Van.
Serdar Ahmed, an official at Duhok seismology department in Iraqi Kurdistan told Rudaw that the after shake of today’s earthquake in Van was recorded in Duhok at 6.2 magnitudes.
Van province is no stranger to earthquakes. In 1975 a powerful earthquake near Caldiran in Van province killed 3,840 people.