A powerful earthquake has hit the eastern Turkish province of Elazig, causing buildings to collapse and leaving at least 18 people dead and hundreds hurt, officials say.
The quake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale struck near the town of Sivrice shortly before 9 p.m., the government's disaster and emergency management agency said on January 24. It was followed by several aftershocks.
The agency said 13 people died in Elazig Province and five others were killed in the neighboring province of Malatya.
Two provincial governors of Elazig and Malatya said 225 people were injured.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said authorities had directed rescue teams to the region and were searching for 30 people under the rubble of collapsed buildings. He cited a figure of 533 people injured.
Soylu said Turkey, which straddles seismic fault lines and is prone to earthquakes, had learned lessons from previous disasters, helping it to react to this incident. Drones were being used to aid search operations and communication between provinces, he said.
In 1999, a quake hit the western city of Izmit, leaving more than 17,000 people dead and about 500,000 others homeless.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote on Twitter that all efforts were being taken to 'ensure that the earthquake that occurred in Elazig and was felt in many provinces is overcome with the least amount of loss.'
The earthquake struck in a remote, relatively sparsely populated area.
State media in Syria and Iran reported it was felt in those countries. Lebanese media said the cities of Beirut and Tripoli also felt the quake.
With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP
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