Up to 1,000 Estimated Dead After Powerful Earthquake Shakes Turkey

Dozens of buildings collapsed in various cities in the southeast region after quake measured at magnitude of 7.3 Turkey's Kandilli Observatory puts death toll between 500-1,000.

Turkey's Kandilli Observatory estimates that some 500 to 1,000 people were killed in a powerful earthquake in southeast Turkey's Van province on Sunday, broadcaster CNN Turk reported.

There were bodies of more than 50 people in a hospital in Ercis, the town near the city of Van that was near the epicenter of the earthquake, Cihan news agency reported.

Turkey quake - Reuters - 23.10.2011

Meanwhile, state-run TRT television reported that 59 people were killed and 150 injured in the eastern town of Ercis, 25 others died in Van and a child died in the nearby province of Bitlis.

Separately, Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay told reporters earlier on Sunday some 10 buildings had collapsed in Van city and around 25-30 buildings collapsed in the nearby district of Ercis.

The Turkish Red Crescent reported that 25 apartment buildings and one dormitory in the eastern town of Ercis have collapsed. The Red Crescent says its rescuers have pulled several injured people out of the collapsed dormitory.

The 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit near Van in southeastern Turkey on Sunday, Turkey's Kandilli Observatory and Research Institute said.

The Geophysical Institute of Israel indicated that the quake was also felt in residential high rises in central Tel Aviv.

The office of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Teyyip Erdogan released a statement according to which the strong jolt caused much damage as well as loss of life, without specifying further.

The Kandilli Observatory and Research Institute said the earthquake struck at 1041 GMT and was 5 km deep. The U.S. Geological Survey earlier reported that the magnitude was 7.6.

Major geological fault lines cross Turkey and small earthquakes are a near daily occurrence. Two large quakes in 1999 killed more than 20,000 people in northwest Turkey.

Two people were killed and 79 injured in May when an earthquake shook Simav in northwest Turkey.