8 dead, over 300 injured as earthquake rocks eastern Turkey

The uake affected not only Turkey but also Syria, Georgia and Armenia

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 rocked eastern Turkey on Friday, causing some buildings to collapse, killing at least eight people, injuring more than 300 and leaving several trapped, Turkish officials said.

The quake struck at 1755 GMT, 8-55 p.m. local time, at a depth of 6.7 kilometers near the town of Sivrice in the eastern Elazig province, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said. It was followed by several aftershocks, the strongest with magnitudes 5.4 and 5.1.

Elazig is some 750 km east of the capital, Ankara.

Governor Cetin Oktay Kaldirim told NTV television that three people died in the province. State-run Anadolu Agency quoted Gov. Aydin Barus as saying five other people died in his nearby Malatya province.

At least 225 people were injured in Elazig and 90 in Malatya.

Kaldirim said a fire broke out in a building in Sivrice but was quickly brought under control.

Earlier, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told NTV television that rescuers were trying to reach survivors after a four- or five-story building collapsed in the town of Maden, in Elazig. Around 4-5 buildings collapsed in Sivrice, where two people were hurt, he said.

Local administrator Cuma Telceken said up to seven people are believed to be trapped inside two collapsed buildings in Maden. Television footage showed rescuers searching for survivors among debris.

Soylu was at a meeting on earthquake preparedness when the quake struck.

Rescue teams from neighboring provinces were dispatched to the affected areas, Anadolu Agency reported. Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said troops were on standby to help is they are needed.

The Kandilli seismology center in Istanbul said the quake measured 6.5., while the U.S. Geological Survey gave the preliminary magnitude as 6.7, and said the quake affected not only Turkey but also Syria, Georgia and Armenia.

Different earthquake monitoring centers frequently give differing estimates.

NTV said the earthquake was felt in several Turkish provinces and sent people running outdoors in panic.

Turkey sits on top of two major fault-lines and earthquakes are frequent. Two strong earthquakes struck northwest Turkey in 1999, killing around 18,000 people.

A magnitude 6 earthquake killed 51 people in Elazig in 2010.

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