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Over 500 people killed as massive earthquake rocks Turkey

More than 500 dead as 7.8-magnitude earthquake hits southern Turkey and Syria

More than 500 people were killed as a massive earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale with its epicentre in southeastern Turkey near the border with Syria flattened buildings in several cities in the two countries early morning on Monday, according to a CNN report.

One of the biggest earthquakes in a 00 years, triggered tremors that were felt as far away as the island of Cyprus and Egypt.

Entire sections of major cities in a region filled with millions of people who have fled the civil war in Syria and other conflicts have been wiped out, according to an AFP report.

The head of Syria’s National Earthquake Centre, Raed Ahmed, told pro-government radio that this was “historically, the biggest earthquake recorded in the history of the centre”.

At least 284 people died in Turkey, Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Monday, adding that more than 2,300 people had been injured and that search and rescue work was continuing in several major cities.

At least 245 people died in government-controlled parts of Syria, as well as the northern areas held by pro-Turkish factions, according to the AFP report that cited health ministry and a local hospital sources.

The rescue was being hampered by a winter blizzard that covered major roads in ice and snow.

Television images showed shocked people in Turkey standing in the snow in their pyjamas, watching rescuers dig through the debris of damaged homes.

According to a CNN report, the quake struck while residents were likely asleep and unprepared for the impact. Video shared on social media show dozens of collapsed buildings, while frightened residents huddled on the darkened streets amid the chaos. Rescue workers can be seen conducting search-and-rescue operations by flashlight.