By Havva Kara Aydin, Ali Murat Alhas and Davut Demircan
ANKARA (AA) - Search and rescue efforts are underway after a deadly earthquake rattled eastern Turkey, killing at least 20 people and injuring more than 1,015 others, according to authorities on Saturday.
The 6.8-magnitude quake hit eastern Elazig province at 8.55 p.m. local time (1755GMT) on Friday, with its epicenter in Sivrice district, along with neighboring provinces and countries including Syria and Georgia.
At least six people were rescued by teams in Elazig and Malatya provinces after the powerful earthquake hit the area, local sources told Anadolu Agency.
Earlier, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said 782 others were injured; 433 in Elazig, 222 in Malatya, 37 in Kahramanmaras, 34 in Sanliurfa, 31 in Diyarbakir, 19 in Adiyaman, 6 in Batman.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced the updated death toll, saying: "We have approximately 30 residents under the wreckage in Elazig."
The search and rescue operations are continuing and the death toll could rise, said Koca.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the injured were transferred to hospitals and facilities have been opened to serve those who have been affected.
Five buildings in Sivrice and 25 in Doganyol district of Malatya province were destroyed, said Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum.
He also cautioned residents not to go into damaged buildings.
The AFAD said some 228 aftershocks were felt following the powerful quake and that hundreds of tents, beds and thousands of blankets were dispatched to cities.
The Turkish Red Crescent announced a crisis desk was set up in the capital Ankara and rescue teams were dispatched to earthquake-hit areas. Mobile kitchens, which serve up to 5,000 people, were sent to the region.
National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the army was ready to step into action if necessary.
The quake was also felt in other provinces including Adana, Osmaniye, Tunceli, and Hatay. In addition, northern Syrian regions -- including Idlib, Azaz, Al-Bab, Jarabulus, Afrin and Tal Abyad also felt tremors.
This is not the first quake that hit Turkey in 2020. A 5.4-magnitude quake jolted western province of Manisa on Wednesday. And Ankara was rattled by a 4.5-magnitude quake Thursday.
A total of 51 people were killed in 2010 when a 6.0-magnitude quake hit Elazig province.