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Nearly 5,000 people have been killed and many others trapped under rubble after a powerful earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria early Monday, as well as tremors in Egypt, Cyprus, Lebanon and Israel, making it the worst in a decade. It has become the deadliest earthquake in the region.

important facts

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According to United States Geological Survey, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake occurred at 4:17 a.m. local time, followed exactly 11 minutes later by a magnitude 6.7 aftershock.

The depth of the earthquake was only 17.9 kilometers (11.1 mi), with its epicenter located just 20 miles from the major Turkish city of Gaziantep.

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The death toll from the earthquake is at least 4,983 according to reporting from The Associated Press—the number may rise, as hundreds more are hospitalized with injuries and more are believed to be trapped under collapsed buildings.

At least 3,381 people have been killed in Turkey and more than 20,000 have been injured in Turkey’s 10 provinces, government officials said.

Across the border in Syria, the death toll is expected to be in the hundreds, with most of the devastation taking place in an area held by anti-Assad rebels, where limited access to health facilities and infrastructure has already been in play for 12 years. long civil war

The exact number in Syria is unclear, as reported by the Assad regime. 812 deaths while rebel forces in the north of the country reported more than 790 deaths in the areas under their control – although it is not clear whether there is any overlap between the two numbers.

important quotes

But Twitter, Erdogan offered his "best wishes" to those affected by the earthquake, adding that various government entities "have rapidly begun their work" to carry out search and relief efforts. "We hope to get out of this disaster as soon as possible and with minimal damage, and we will continue our work," he added. Erdogan tweeted later The country will observe seven days of national mourning.

what to watch

The death toll from the earthquake is expected to rise significantly in both Turkey and Syria. usgs Estimate There is a 47% chance that the final number may be somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000. Estimates said that about 70,000 lived in areas where "violent" shaking was reported, with an additional 540,000 living in areas that felt "severe" shaking. According to USGS' intensity scaleSubstantial damage to structures in areas with "violent" shaking is expected, including partial collapse and buildings being lifted off foundations.

Powerful earthquake kills at least 560 in Turkey, Syria (associated Press)

7.4 magnitude earthquake hits southern Turkey causing heavy damage, death toll rises (Hurriyat Daily News)