A powerful earthquake measuring 6.8 hit eastern Turkey, leaving at least 14 people dead and causing buildings to collapse.
The quake shook the Sivrice district in the eastern province of Elazig at around 8.55 pm (17:55 GMT), the government’s disaster and emergency management agency said.
The US Geological Survey assessed the quake’s magnitude at 6.7, and said it struck at a depth of 10 km.
“It was very scary, furniture fell on top of us. We rushed outside,” 47-year-old Melahat Can, who lives in the city of Elazig, told AFP.
“We will spend the coming days in a farmhouse outside the city,” she said.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said four people had died.
“We are hoping we will not have more casualties,” he 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 told reporters, adding that there were reports of some collapsed buildings in the region.
The quake’s epicentre was in Elazig province, about 550 km east of the capital, Ankara. Turkish aid organisations said they were sending teams to affected areas.
The tremor was felt in several parts of eastern Turkey including Tunceli, the Turkish broadcaster NTV reported, adding that neighbouring cities had mobilised rescue teams for the quake area.
“We have sent four teams to the quake region,” Recep Salci of Turkey’s Search and Rescue Association (AKUT) told AFP. “We have news of collapsed buildings, and preparing more teams in case of need.”
Zekeriya Gunes, 68, a resident of Elazig city, said a building 200 metres down on his street had collapsed but he did not know whether it was inhabited.
“Everybody is in the street, it was very powerful, very scary,” he said.
Turkey lies on major fault lines 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 the country’s largest city Istanbul.
In 2011 an earthquake struck the eastern city of Van and the town of Ercis, some 100 km to the north, killing atleast 523 people.
In September, a 5.7-magnitude earthquake shook Istanbul, causing residents to flee buildings in the economic capital.
Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate the city of 15 million people, which has allowed widespread building without safety precautions.