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Turkey earthquake: At least 18 dead as buildings collapse

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At least 18 people have been killed and hundreds hurt in a powerful earthquake in eastern Turkey, officials say.

The 6.8 magnitude quake, centred on the town of Sivrice in Elazig province, caused buildings to collapse and sent residents rushing into the street.

Tremors were also felt in neighbouring Syria, Lebanon and Iran.

Earthquakes are common in Turkey – about 17,000 people died in a massive quake in the western city of Izmit in 1999.

Friday's quake struck at about 20:55 local time (17:55 GMT).

According to Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), there were 60 aftershocks recorded after the earthquake.

It said more than 400 rescue teams are heading towards the region, along with beds and tents for those displaced. It warned people not to return to damaged buildings in case of aftershocks.

The governor of Elazig said eight people had died in the province, while the governor of neighbouring Malatya said six died there.

TV pictures showed emergency services frantically searching collapsed buildings for survivors.

"It was very scary – furniture fell on top of us. We rushed outside," AFP news agency quoted 47-year-old Melahat Can, who lives in the city of Elazig, as saying.

The region struck by the quake, some 550km (340 miles) east of the capital Ankara, is remote and sparsely populated, so details of damage and fatalities could be slow to emerge.

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