The death toll rises to more than 640 people
A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked southern Turkey and northern Syria early Monday morning, toppling hundreds of buildings and killing at least 641 people. The death toll is expected to rise throughout the day.
Rescuers searched mounds of wreckage in towns and villages across the region as hundreds of people remained trapped under the rubble.
The pre-dawn quake pushed residents outside on a cold, rainy and snowy winter night as buildings were flattened and strong aftershocks continued.
Rescuers and residents in several towns searched for survivors, working through metal tangles and giant piles of concrete, AP reports.
“Six hundred and thirty-nine people were injured and 237 were killed in the provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama and Tartous,” the Syrian Ministry of Health said in a statement.
In areas of northern Syria controlled by pro-Turkish factions, at least eight people have been killed in the Azaz and Al-Bab areas, Omar Alwan, the response coordinator, told AFP. medical service for the area, adding that the number was likely to increase as search and rescue operations were underway.
“We worked to rescue survivors and retrieve the dead from under the rubble,” he said, as dozens of rescuers and locals worked in the dark, searching for survivors in the rubble with their flashlights.
The 7.8-magnitude quake struck near Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey on Monday at 4:17 a.m. (0117 GMT) at a depth of about 17.9 kilometers (11 miles), the US Geological said. Survey.
The tremors were felt in Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus, according to AFP correspondents.
Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: Follow @SunSimonKent or by e-mail to: email@example.com