Turkey quake kills 912 in historic disaster, Erdogan says

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The earthquake was centered on Kahramanmaras province and shook southern Turkey and northern Syria overnight. It was followed by another strong earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 in the same region at around 1025 GMT.

Erdogan said 2,818 buildings collapsed after the first tremor, describing it as the country’s “biggest disaster” since 1939, when a major earthquake hit the eastern province of Erzincan.

In 1999, a similar-sized quake devastated Izmit and the heavily populated eastern Marmara Sea region near Istanbul, killing more than 17,000.

“Everyone is putting their heart and soul into the efforts, although the winter season, the cold weather and the earthquake that occurs during the night make things more difficult,” he told reporters at a conference of news at Turkey’s disaster coordination center in Ankara.

“We do not know how high the number of victims will be as the efforts to remove the debris continue in various buildings in the earthquake area,” he said.

About 9,000 personnel were taking part in the rescue operations, he said. Aid offers were made by NATO, the European Union and 45 countries, he added.

Erdogan said 5,385 people were injured in the earthquake as rescue operations continued, with 2,470 people rescued from the ruins of buildings.

“Today is a day for 85 million to be together as one heart,” he said.

(Reporting by Nevzat Devranoglu and Ezgi Erkoyun; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Angus MacSwan)

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