More than 500 people were killed and thousands injured on Monday, after a major earthquake of magnitude 7.8 struck central Turkey and northwest Syria, collapsing buildings and triggering searches for survivors in the rubble.
The quake, which hit in the early darkness of a winter morning, was also felt in Cyprus and Lebanon.
“We were shaken like a cradle. There were nine of us at home. Two sons of mine are still in the rubble, I’m waiting for them,” said a woman with a broken arm and wounds on her face, speaking in an ambulance near the wreckage of a seven-storey block where she had lived in Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey.
“I have never felt anything like it in the 40 years I’ve lived,” said Erdem, a resident of the Turkish city of Gaziantep, near the quake’s epicentre, who declined to give his surname.
“We were shaken at least three times very strongly.”
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said 284 people were killed and 2,323 injured, as authorities scrambled rescue teams and supply aircraft for the affected area, while declaring a “level 4 alarm” that calls for international assistance.