The death toll is expected to rise. The quake was felt as far away as Cairo and centered near the Syrian border, just north of Gaziantep. At least 20 aftershocks followed, with the strongest measuring 6.6.
Search for Survivors Underway
Rescue workers and residents search for survivors under the rubble of buildings flattened in multiple cities. On the Syrian side of the border, the quake hit opposition-held regions home to millions of displaced people. Hospitals in the area were reported to be packed. The situation was described as "disastrous" in the rebel-held town of Azmarin, with the bodies of several children being brought to a hospital.
Death Toll Rises, Buildings Collapse
In Turkey, at least 76 people have died in seven provinces, with 440 injured. According to Syrian state media, the death toll in Syria has climbed to 237, with over 630 injured. Buildings have been reported collapsed in a swath from Syria's cities of Aleppo and Hama to Turkey's Diyarbakir. People trying to leave the quake-stricken regions caused traffic jams, hampering the efforts of emergency teams.
Emergency Response and Recovery Efforts
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dispatched search and rescue teams to the areas hit by the quake. Mosques around the region were opened as a shelter for people unable to return to damaged homes. In Diyarbakir, rescue teams called for silence as they tried to listen for survivors. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered 20 miles from Gaziantep and was 11 miles deep.
The Aftermath of the Earthquake
In Damascus, buildings shook, and many people went to the streets in fear. The quake also jolted residents in Lebanon, shaking buildings for about 40 seconds. Many residents of Beirut left their homes and took to the streets or drove in their cars away from buildings. The earthquake came as the Middle East is experiencing a snowstorm expected to continue until Thursday. Turkey sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes. Some 18,000 were killed in earthquakes that hit northwest Turkey in 1999.