Death toll rises in eastern Turkey earthquake

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ANKARA — At least 18 people were killed and more than 600 injured Friday after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake jolted the eastern Turkish province of Elazig, according to authorities.

The Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said 13 people were killed in Elazig province, 4 in Malatya and one in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey.A total of 651 others were injured; 403 in Elazig, 148 in Malatya, 13 in Diyarbakir, 11 in Adiyaman, 6 in Batman, 37 in Kahramanmaras, 33 in Sanliurfa.

Earlier, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 553 people were injured and transferred to hospitals, adding that facilities have been opened to serve those who have been affected.

Five buildings in Sivrice district of Elazig and 25 in Doganyol district of Malatya were destroyed, said Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum.

He also cautioned residents not to go into damaged buildings.

The AFAD said 118 aftershocks, with magnitudes ranging from 2.7 to 5.4, were felt following the powerful quake.

It said hundreds of tents, beds and thousands of blankets were dispatched to cities.

The Turkish Red Crescent announced a crisis desk was set up in Ankara, and rescue teams dispatched to quake areas. Mobile kitchens, which serve up to 5,000 people, were sent to the region.

National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the army was ready to step into action if necessary.

Turkish parliamentary speaker Mustafa Sentop said: “Our biggest hope is that the death toll does not rise.”

Davut Gul, governor of Gaziantep province, said there were no life or material loss, according to initial reports and offered condolences to locals.

Sanliurfa Governor Abdullah Erin said the situation did not look dire, according to the initial reports, and the disaster agency stepped into action right after the quake.

Tuncay Sonel, the governor of Tunceli province, said the quake was felt in his province but it did not cause heavy damage as authorities observed no casualties.

AA

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