A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey early Monday morning, followed by several powerful aftershocks that were felt across the region. The jolts caused widespread destruction, knocking down multiple residential buildings, according to disturbing footage captured by survivors.
The most powerful jolt, measured at 7.8 by the USGS and 7.4 by the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority, happened around 4:17am local time, and was centered 33km northeast of Gaziantep, a major provincial capital with a population of over 2 million people.
Hundreds of buildings were destroyed in Turkey and Syria. at least 500 people were killed in Turkey and Syria, according to officials, with more casualties expected as rescuers work to find survivors.
The Turkish authorities declared the highest level of emergency, with all rescue services and first responders mobilized to aid the affected provinces, according to the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his condolences to the victims, confirming that search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched to affected areas, while all other government institutions are coordinating their response.
Across the border in Syria, several residential buildings reportedly collapsed in Aleppo, as well as the city of Hama, according to local media.