A 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit eastern Turkey, taking the lives of at least 240 citizens and injuring more than 1,000 people in and around the city of Van on Sunday, local media reported. Rescue teams are searching for survivors in the area where more than 200 aftershocks were registered during the early morning hours on Monday.
Ercis, a town close to Van, was severely hit by the earthquake and over 120 people reportedly died in damaged buildings throughout the town. At least 100 people are reported dead in Van. Over 700 people have been injured in Ercis while 350 citizens of Van have been injured in the quake, according to Turkish media.
The Turkish authorities sent more than 1,200 aid workers to the area, while many other nations offered assistance. The Turkish army is participating actively in the rescue process, while more than 140 ambulances and 500 personnel were sent to Van and Ercis by the Health Ministry to help local residents who spent the night on the streets. Tents, blankets and warm clothing were also sent to the region struck by the powerful earthquake. The government managed to organize field kitchens that are able to provide support for up to 25,000 people, a spokesman for the government told journalists in Ankara. The authorities arranged some 12,000 tents to be delivered in the towns of Ercis and Van.
Rescuers from 38 nearby towns arrived in Ercis and Van to look for survivors, while Israel also proposed assistance but the Turkey’s government rejected the offer. U.S. President Barack Obama said Washington is ready to provide assistance to its Turkish ally, where important NATO military bases are located.
In 1999, two powerful earthquakes shook northwestern Turkey killing thousands of residents and causing heavy damages to the local economy. Turkey, where major fault lines are located, often is experiencing earthquakes, scientists said.