Turkey earthquake: at least nine dead after 5.5 magnitude tremor near Iran border

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Nine people have died and others are stuck beneath collapsed buildings in south-east Turkey after a magnitude-5.7 earthquake struck near the border with Iran on Sunday, the Turkish interior minister said as rescue teams arrived in villages.

Three of those killed in the shallow tremor were children and five people were reported injured, according to Minister Suleyman Soylu. He added that some 1,066 buildings collapsed.

Turkish TV footage showed people digging through rubble with shovels as well as crumbled exterior walls of homes, cracks in roads and residents outside in the snow.

The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said the quake had a depth of 5 km. Iranian officials said it had been felt in Iran but that there were no immediate reports of deaths.

Turkish public broadcaster TRT World said the quake-affected about 43 villages in Turkey, which has a history of powerful earthquakes. There were also reports of building collapses in the Turkish city of Van.

The Disaster and Emergency Management Authority had begun rescue work, Mr Soylu said.

Crisscrossed by major fault lines, Iran and Turkey are among the most earthquake-prone countries in the world.

An earthquake last month in eastern Turkey killed more than 40 people while another in Iran did structural damage to homes without causing any fatalities.

Rescue workers work at the scene of a collapsed building in Elazig, Turkey. Getty Images

Women gather near a fire outside tents after leaving their homes following an earthquake in Elazig. AFP

Rescue workers continue to look for people trapped under debris following a strong earthquake that destroyed several buildings on Friday, in Elazig, eastern Turkey. AP Photo

People rest at an indoor sports hall, a temporary shelter, after an earthquake hit Elazig, Turkey. EPA

People try get warm around a fire after an earthquake hit Elazig, Turkey. EPA

Two women embrace as rescue workers try to save people trapped under debris following a strong earthquake that destroyed several buildings on Friday, in Elazig, eastern Turkey. AP Photo

Rescue workers retrieve a body from the rubble of a building after an earthquake hit Elazig, Turkey. EPA

A relative grieves during a funeral ceremony of 5 members of the Aslan family in Elazig, Turkey. Getty Images

Rescue workers carry the body of an earthquake victim in Elazig, Turkey. REUTERS

Rescuers search for people buried under the rubble on a collapsed building, after an earthquake struck Elazig, eastern Turkey. AP

Rescue dogs search the scene of a collapsed building in Elazig, Turkey. Getty Images

An Iranian official told state TV that rescue teams had been dispatched to the area. "So far, we've had no reports of damage or fatalities in the area, which is not a populated area in Iran's West Azarbaijan province," the official said.

But another local official said "it is very likely that there will be casualties and damage", Iran's state TV reported. The official said the earthquake was felt in several towns including Khoy, Urmiah and Salmas. He said about 43 villages in Iran were affected.

"Some 43 villages in the area suffered 10 per cent to 100 per cent damage. But we had no reports of deaths, only injuries," he told state TV.

Updated: February 23, 2020 03:40 PM

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