ArmInfo.A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit southern Turkey and northern Syria early Monday, toppling buildings and triggering a frantic search for survivors in the rubble in cities and towns across the area. At least 207 were killed and hundreds injured, and the toll was expected to rise, CNBC reports.
On both sides of the border, residents were jolted out of sleep by the tremors several hours before dawn and rushed outside in a cold, rainy and snowy winter night. Dozens of buildings collapsed in cities across the border region.
Rescue workers and residents frantically searched for survivors under the rubble of crushed buildings in multiple cities on both sides of the border, working through tangles of metal and chunks of concrete.
In the Turkish city of Adana, witnesses said they heard one person calling for help from beneath the rubble of a building. "I don't have the strength to carry on," the person cried. Further east in Diyarbakir, cranes and rescue teams worked at a mountain of pancaked concrete floors that was once an apartment building.
On the Syrian side of the border, the quake smashed opposition-held regions that are packed with some 4 million people displaced from other parts of Syria by the country's long civil war. Many of them live in decrepit conditions with little health care. At least 11 were killed in one town, Atmeh, and many more were buried in the rubble, a doctor in the town, Muheeb Qaddour, told The Associated Press by telephone.
"We fear that the deaths are in the hundreds," Qaddour said, referring to the rebel-held northwest. "We are under extreme pressure."
The quake, felt as far away as Cairo, was centered about 90 kilometers (60 miles) from the Syrian border, just north of the city of Gaziantep, a major Turkish provincial capital of more than 2 million people. The region has been shaped by more than a decade of war in Syria. Millions of Syrian refugees live in Turkey. The swath of Syria affected by the quake is divided between government-held and opposition-held areas.
At least 20 aftershocks followed, some hours later during daylight, the strongest measuring 6.6, Turkish authorities said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter that "search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched" to the areas hit by the quake.
"We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage," he wrote.