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A Powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.2 struck eastern Turkey Sunday morning at 10:41 UTC collapsing as many as 90 buildings. Widespread panic sent tens of thousands of residents fleeing into the streets. At least 85 casualties, and many injuries are reported so far.  Turkish scientists are estimating the death toll between 500 and 1,000.

Survivors tried to reach relatives by cell phone. Many desperate to save those trapped, and injured dug into the rubble with their bare hands.

Van's airport was damaged, and air traffic diverted to neighboring cities. The governor toured the region by helicopter, while the government sent in tent, blankets, and field kitchens.

Turkey sees frequent earthquakes. The worst in the last century killed 160,000 in 1939 in the eastern city of Erzincan. Authorities say the area especially Istanbul, is ill-prepared for major quakes, with faulty construction, and overcrowding, and could cause over 40,000 deaths if a major quake strikes that city.


 
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