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NEWS! Huge quake topples buildings in Turkey and Syria as people slept

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NEWS! Huge quake topples buildings in Turkey and Syria as people slept

 
The most powerful earthquake in nearly a century struck Turkey and Syria early Monday, killing over 1,400 people in their sleep, levelling buildings and causing tremors felt as far away as Greenland.
The 7.8-magnitude night-time tremor, followed hours later by a slightly smaller one, wiped out entire sections of major Turkish cities in a region filled with millions of people who have fled the civil war in Syria and other conflicts.
 
The head of Syria's National Earthquake Centre, Raed Ahmed, called it "the biggest earthquake recorded in the history of the centre".
 
At least 560 people died in rebel and government-controlled parts of Syria, state media and medical sources said.
 
Another 912 people died in Turkey, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose handling of one of the biggest disasters of his two decades in power could prove consequential to his re-election chances in polls due in May.
 
The initial quake was followed by more than 50 aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude tremor that jolted the region in the middle of search and rescue work on Monday afternoon.
 
AFP reporters and witnesses felt the second jolt as far apart as the Turkish capital Ankara and the Iraqi Kurdistan city of Irbil.
 
Shocked survivors in Turkey rushed out into the snow-covered streets in their pyjamas, watching rescuers dig through the debris of damaged homes with their hands.
 
"Seven members of my family are under the debris," Muhittin Orakci, a stunned survivor in Turkey's mostly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, told AFP.
 
"My sister and her three children are there. And also her husband, her father-in-law and her mother-in-law."
 
The rescue was being hampered by a winter blizzard that covered major roads in ice and snow. Officials said the quake made three major airports in the area inoperable, further complicating deliveries of vital aid.
 
Erdogan conveyed his sympathies and urged national unity, saying "We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage."
 

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