Earthquake Hits Turkey

A magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck eastern Turkey on Sunday, flattening buildings and destroying homes in one of the poorest regions in the country.

The tremor’s epicenter was found about 12 miles from the province of Van. Among the areas affected were the city of Van and the town of Ercis, which sits on a fault line. An Associated Press report said around 45 buildings collapsed in Van and Ercis alone.

There was no immediate word on the number of casualties, but experts at the Kandilli observatory said the death toll could be as high as 1,000. Mustafa Erdik of the observatory said the estimate was based on the types of structures in the area and the strength of the quake. Early footages from the affected region show rescuers trying to work through piles of rubble in an area where buildings used to stand.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was expected to visit the affected areas Sunday afternoon.

UPDATE: The Interior Minister put the death toll so far at 217.