A major earthquake that struck Turkey Friday night killed at least 22 people and is being blamed for more than 1,200 injuries, according to Turkish authorities. The death toll from the disaster is still expected to rise.
The 6.8 magnitude earthquake knocked down a number of buildings near its epicenter in the eastern part of the country, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority. Around 40 people were successfully pulled from under collapsed buildings, and major rescue efforts are now underway in the city of Elazig to locate and rescue others pinned under rubble. AFAD has estimated that in that city, a couple dozen people may still be trapped. Nearly 4,000 rescue workers total have been deployed, according to AFAD.
Most injuries occurred in Elazig province. The town of Sivrice, in the east of the province, was closest to the epicenter. At least five buildings in the town of 4,000 collapsed.
The region was hit by hundreds of aftershocks, some of which registered as above a magnitude 5 themselves. Earthquakes in the magnitude 5 range can damage poorly constructed buildings, while those above a 6.0 are considered capable of major damage. Hundreds of people fled their homes to seek shelter in mosques, schools, and other converted shelters. Hundreds of homes and other buildings are now considered unsafe.
Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon also experienced shaking from the earthquake. Turkey has a history of devastating seismic activity. In 1999, earthquakes killed 17,000 people in northwest Turkey. In 2010, a magnitude 6 earthquake killed 51 in Elazig.