October 23, 2011- Eastern Turkey was hit Sunday by a strong earthquake that collapsed buildings in the city of Van. Reports were a large amount of damage was done. The town’s mayor said that many people were dead and that several of the town’s structures had collapsed. He was pleading for help and supplies to arrive as quickly as possible.
Rescue workers were trying to get people out of a collapsed seven-story building said Anatolia, the state-run news agency. Van is a town in the far eastern region of Turkey near the border with Iran.
The 7.3 magnitude quake struck at 1:41 pm local time or 6:41 am EDT. The U.S. Geological Survey announced the quake’s depth was only 4.5 miles making it a very shallow and possibly more destructive quake. A number of aftershocks rocked the area, with some being as high as 5.5. The epicenter of the quake was in Tabanli, near the border of Iran.
There were reports of widespread damage, including at the airport in Van. Residents rushed into the streets away from buildings in fear more would collapse. Residents were seen with safety and rescue personnel using their hands and shovels trying to get to people presumed trapped under buildings.
Quakes are very frequent in Turkey, which has a number of fault lines crisscrossing its territory. Over 18,000 were killed in 1999 when two strong quakes struck in the northwestern area of the country.