The death toll from a powerful earthquake in eastern Turkey rose to 29 as rescue workers raced against time Saturday to find survivors under the rubble.
The magnitude 6.8 quake struck on Friday evening, with its epicentre in the small lakeside town of Sivrice in Elazig province, and was felt across neighbouring countries.
The Turkish government’s disaster and emergency management agency (AFAD) said 29 died in Elazig and in nearby Malatya while nearly 1,500 had been injured.
The update came as a quake with a 5.1 magnitude hit Sivrice later Saturday.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cancelled a speech in Istanbul and attended the funeral of a woman and her son in Elazig. He later visited Malatya.
He vowed the state would do “everything we can” to help those affected in a disaster he described as a “test”.
AFAD said 43 people had been rescued alive from collapsed buildings in Elazig. An estimated 19 others remained trapped in the rubble.
Turkish news channels showed live images of people rescued. Among those pulled out alive was a woman called Azize who had contacted emergency authorities and spoken to a rescue worker by telephone, state news agency Anadolu reported.
The tremor was felt in several parts of eastern Turkey near the Iraqi and Syrian borders as well as in Iran, Lebanon and Syria.
Officials said 72 buildings had collapsed while 514 were badly damaged and 409 had limited damage in the affected region.
The US Geological Survey assessed the magnitude as 6.7, slightly lower than AFAD, adding that it struck near the East Anatolian Fault in an area that has suffered no documented large ruptures since an earthquake in 1875.
There have been 462 aftershocks including 14 that were above four in magnitude, AFAD said.
In 1999, a devastating 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Izmit in western Turkey, leaving more than 17,000 people dead including about 1,000 in Istanbul.
Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate the city of 15 million people, which has allowed widespread building without safety precautions.
Such fears were acutely awakened in September last year when a 5.7-magnitude earthquake shook Istanbul, causing residents to flee buildings in the economic capital.
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