*

upload_article_image

At least 4 dead as magnitude 6.8 quake rocks eastern Turkey

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 rocked eastern Turkey on Friday, causing some buildings to collapse and killing at least four people, Turkish officials said.

The quake struck at 1755 GMT, 8:55 p.m. local time, at a depth of 6.7 kilometers near the town of Sivrice in the eastern Elazig province, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said. It was followed by several aftershocks, the strongest with magnitudes 5.4 and 5.1.

Elazig is some 750 kilometers (465 miles) east of the capital, Ankara.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said two of the victims were killed in Elazig province and two others in nearby Malatya province, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.

Earlier, Soylu told NTV television that rescuers were trying to reach survivors after a four- or five-story building collapsed in the town of Maden, in Elazig. Around 4-5 buildings collapsed in Sivrice, where two people were hurt, he said.

Local administrator Cuma Telceken said up to seven people are believed to be trapped inside two collapsed buildings in Maden.

Soylu was at a meeting on earthquake preparedness when the quake struck.

Rescue teams from neighboring provinces were dispatched to the affected areas, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said troops were on standby to help is they are needed.

The Kandilli seismology center in Istanbul said the quake measured 6.5., while the U.S. Geological Survey gave the preliminary magnitude as 6.7, and said the quake affected not only Turkey but also Syria, Georgia and Armenia.

Different earthquake monitoring centers frequently give differing estimates.

NTV said the earthquake was felt in several Turkish provinces and sent people running outdoors in panic.

Turkey sits on top of two major fault-lines and earthquakes are frequent. Two strong earthquakes struck northwest Turkey in 1999, killing around 18,000 people.

A magnitude 6 earthquake killed 51 people in Elazig in 2010.