217 people dead - Turkey 7.2 magnitude earthquake

Turkey hit by 7.2 magnitude earthquake

On Sunday Turkey's eastern Van region was hit by 7.2 magnitude quake. Rescue teams are desperately searching for people trapped beneath rubble after a strong earthquake hit Turkey's eastern Van region on Sunday.

More than 200 people died and 1,000 were injured in the 7.2 magnitude quake, many of them in the town of Ercis, where dozens of buildings fell.

Tens of thousands have been sleeping outside in freezing conditions. The death toll is expected to rise in the coming hours. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been visiting the area.Turkey is particularly in danger to earthquakes because it sits on major geological fault lines.

Two earthquakes in 1999 with a magnitude of more than 7 killed almost 20,000 people in densely populated parts of the north-west of the country. The earthquake struck at 13:41 (10:41 GMT) at a depth of 20km (12.4 miles), with its epicentre 16km north-east of Van in eastern Turkey, the US Geological Survey said.

It was followed by a series of powerful aftershocks, also centered north of Van, including two of magnitude 5.6 soon after the quake and one of 6.0 late on Sunday.

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