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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 6.9 hit eastern Turkey on Friday, killing at least six people, causing buildings to collapse and sending panicked residents rushing into the street.
Rescue teams were being sent to the scene of the quake, which had its epicentre in the small lakeside town of Sivrice, about 550km east of the capital Ankara. in the eastern province of Elazig.
"We are hoping we will not have more casualties," Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu was quoted as saying by the official Anadolu news agency.
"Sivrice was shaken very seriously, we have directed our rescue teams to the region," he added.
The Turkish government's disaster and emergency management agency (AFAD) said the earthquake struck at around 8.55pm local time (1755 GMT), and Turkish aid organisations also said they were sending teams to the area.
AFAD said at least three people were killed in Elazig province and three in the neighbouring province of Malatya, which lies to the south-west.
Turkish television showed images of people stuck in apartments rushing outside in panic, as well as a fire on the roof of one building.
AFAD said more than 400 rescue teams were directed toward the region.
Turkey's leading communications companies announced they would provide residents in the quake region with internet and that phone calls would be free of charge.
The Turkish Red Crescent called on residents of Elazig to give blood following the earthquake, as local media reports suggested dozens of people in the province were injured, including some who were forced to leap from balconies to escape damaged buildings.
The quake, which struck at a depth of 10km, was followed by at least 30 aftershocks, the strongest measuring 5.4 and 5.1 on the Richter scale.
State media in neighbouring Syria and Iran both reported the earthquake was felt in those countries. Local media in Lebanon said the cities of Beirut and Tripoli also felt the quake.
Social media users in Turkey posted videos showing buildings being shaken by the tremor.
Other users posted pictures of badly damaged buildings.
Rescue operations are ongoing in Elazig province.
The town of Sivrice, home to about 4,000 people, is situated south of Elazig city on the shores of Hazar lake. It is one of the most popular tourist spots in the region and the source of the Tigris river.
The lake is home to a "Sunken City" where archaeologists have found artefacts dating back 4,000 years.
Turkey lies on major faultlines and is prone to earthquakes.
In 1999, a devastating 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Izmit in western Turkey, leaving more than 17,000 people dead including about 1,000 in the economic capital Istanbul.
Updated: January 25, 2020 01:03 AM
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