A second giant earthquake – this one of 7.6 magnitude – has just hit southern Turkey. This is just a few hours after the first 7.8 magnitude quake which hit Turkey and Syria earlier in the day and left over 1,500 people dead and several hundreds injured.

The earthquake wiped out entire sections of major Turkish cities in a region filled with millions of people who have fled the civil war in Syria and other conflicts.

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Death toll so far

The head of Syria’s National Earthquake Centre, Raed Ahmed, called it “the biggest earthquake recorded in the history of the centre”. At least 560 people died in rebel and government-controlled parts of Syria, state media and medical sources said. 

Another 912 people died in Turkey, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose handling of one of the biggest disasters of his two decades in power could prove consequential to his re-election chances in polls due in May.

India and other countries are rushing aid. PM Narendra Modi reached out to quake hit-Turkey. “India stands in solidarity with the people of Turkey and is ready to offer all possible assistance to cope with this tragedy,” the PM said. The government has decided to send rescue teams, medical teams and relief material.

People were still asleep when it hit

The jolt caught most people while they were still at home asleep. The tremors were felt as far away as the island of Cyprus in Middle East.

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

On the streets in towns and cities across southeast Turkey and Syria, people have fled their homes to take shelter in cars, fearing aftershocks and more collapsed buildings.

Rescue workers and residents are still frantically searching for survivors under the rubble of crushed buildings in multiple cities on both sides of the border. 

In one quake-struck Turkish city, dozens pulled away chunks of concrete and twisted metal. People on the street shouted up to others inside a partially toppled apartment building, leaning dangerously.

42 aftershocks felt in 2 hours

A total of 42 aftershocks have been felt in the two hours since the quake first struck at 4.17 am local time, according to Turkey’s ministry of interior disaster and emergency management.

The ministry issued a statement, saying:

“As of 6:30am, a total of 42 aftershocks, the largest of which was 6.6, were experienced.”

One of the most powerful quakes to hit Turkey

The earthquake was one of the most powerful to hit the region in at least a century.

“I convey my best wishes to all our citizens who were affected by the earthquake,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted.

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Turkey, one of the world’s most active quake zones

The earthquake levelled dozens of buildings across major cities of southern Turkey as well as neighbouring Syria, a country gripped by more than a decade of violence that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions of people.

Turkey is in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones

The Turkish region of Duzce suffered a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in 1999 — the worst to hit Turkey in decades.

That quake killed more than 17,000 people, including about 1,000 in Istanbul.

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