TRT state television said 59 people were killed and 150 wounded in the town of Ercis in the east. Twenty-five people died in Van. A child was killed in the eastern province of Bitlis.
Ercis, a city with 75,000 inhabitants in the mountainous province of Van, near the Iranian border, was the place hardest hit by the earthquake. It is located on the fault of the same name. This area is frequently hit by earthquakes.
The main focus of seismological studies of the country fears that the death toll mounts.
The preliminary magnitude quake was measured at 6.6 at a depth of 5 km by the Kandilli Observatory in Turkey to 7.2 at a depth of 20 km by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Based on the strength of the earthquake and the structure of the habitat in the affected region, the province of Van, the Kandilli Observatory suggested a range for the human toll.
“We believe that the balance would be between 500 and 1000 deaths,” said Mustafa Erdik the director of Kandilli Observatory, which is the main center of seismology in Turkey.
The earthquake occurred at 1:41 p.m. local time. Its epicenter was located in the village of Tabanli, in the province of Van, bordering Iran.
“The earthquake was strongly felt in Van and in nearby towns, and caused damage and deaths, according to first estimates”, said the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“A dozen buildings collapsed in the city of Van and between 25 and 30 collapsed in Ercis,” said Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay.
“There are many dead. Several buildings collapsed,” said Zulfikar Arapoglu the mayor of Ercis, on the television channel NTV. “We need urgent help. We need doctors.”
According to NTV, airport van was damaged and the aircraft were diverted to nearby towns.
At least 50 people were treated in the courtyard of the hospital in Van, according to the Anatolia news agency. “The phone lines are saturated due to the panic, and we can not fully assess the damage immediately,” Bekir Kaya, the mayor of Van, told NTV.
Several ministers were on the scene. The authorities mobilized emergency teams across the country.
Earthquakes are frequent in Turkey, crossed by several geological faults. In 1999, about 18,000 people were killed in two earthquakes in north-west.