Over 500 people die as huge quake toppled buildings in Turkey near Syria border
A powerful earthquake has struck in south-eastern Turkey, near the Syrian border, killing more than 500 people as they slept and trapping many others.
The US Geological Survey said the 7.8 magnitude tremor struck at 04:17 local time (01:17 GMT) at a depth of 17.9km (11 miles) near the city of Gaziantep.
Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay said the death toll in Turkey had now risen to 284 people.
In Syria, more than 230 people were killed, state media reported.
The Syrian health ministry said people had died in the provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama and Tartus.
There are fears the number of deaths will rise sharply in the coming hours.
Many buildings have collapsed and rescue teams have been deployed to search for survivors under huge piles of rubble.
Turkish Interior Minister Suleymon Soylu said 10 cities were affected: Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Hatay, Osmaniye, Adiyaman, Malatya, Sanliurfa, Adana, Diyarbakir and Kilis.
In Malatya province, north-east of Gaziantep, at least 23 people were killed, local officials said. In Sanliurfa, to the east, there were 17 deaths. And more deaths were reported in Diyarbakir and Osmaniye.
At least 2,323 people were injured in Turkey and 639 in Syria.
A BBC Turkish correspondent in Diyarbakir, reported that a shopping mall in the city collapsed.
Watch: Searching for people in earthquake rubble in Malatya
The tremor was also felt in Lebanon and Cyprus.
“I was writing something and just all of a sudden the entire building started shaking and yes I didn’t really know what to feel,” Mohamad El Chamaa, a student in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, told the BBC.
“I was right next to the window so I was just scared that they might shatter. It went on for four-five minutes and it was pretty horrific. It was mind-blowing,” he said.
Rushdi Abualouf, a BBC producer in the Gaza Strip, said there was about 45 seconds of shaking in the house he was staying in.
Turkish seismologists estimated the strength of the quake to be 7.4 magnitude. They said that a second tremor hit the region just minutes later.
Turkey lies in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones.
In 1999, more than 17,000 people were killed after a powerful tremor rocked the north-west of the country.