7.8 magnitude earthquake knocks down buildings in central Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey – A 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook southeastern Turkey early Monday morning, with tremors felt in several provinces and elsewhere in the Middle East. According to reports, the earthquake collapsed several buildings.

The US Geological Survey said the epicenter was about 33 kilometers (20 miles) from Gaziantep, a major city and the provincial capital. It was about 26 km (16 mi) from the town of Noordgi.

According to the US Geological Survey, it was centered at a depth of 18 km (11 mi). About 10 minutes later there was a strong 6.7 aftershock.

Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Agency, AFAD, said the earthquake had a magnitude of 7.4 and was centered in the town of Pazark in Kahramanmaras province.

HaberTurk television reported that several buildings collapsed in the neighboring provinces of Malatya, Diyarbakir and Malatya. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Earthquake tremors were also felt in Lebanon and Syria.

Syrian state media reported that some buildings collapsed in the northern city of Aleppo and the central city of Hama.

In Syria’s rebel-held northwest, which borders Turkey, several buildings collapsed, according to the opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense.

Buildings shook in Damascus and many people took to the streets in fear.

The quake jolted Lebanon residents out of bed, with buildings shaking for about 40 seconds. Many Beirut residents left their homes and took to the streets or got into their cars away from buildings.

There were no immediate reports of major damage or loss of life in either country.

Turkey sits on major fault lines and is frequently hit by earthquakes.

In 1999, powerful earthquakes in northwestern Turkey killed about 18,000 people.

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