UPDATES WITH STATEMENTS BY COUNTRY'S DISASTER AGENCY, TURKISH PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER AND GREEK MINISTER; ADDS INFO ON MINISTERS VISITING ELAZIG; CHANGES HEADLINE; LEDE; EDITS THROUGHOUT
By Ali Murat Alhas and Davut Demircan
ANKARA (AA) - A 6.8-magnitude earthquake Friday jolted the eastern Turkish province of Elazig, killing six people, injuring hundreds of others, according to initial reports of official sources.
The country's Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said the initial reports suggested that a total of six people were killed amid the natural disaster.
Also, the governor of Elazig, Cetin Oktay Kaldirim, said there were 225 injured people transferred to hospitals with two of them in critical condition.
The disaster agency announced that a total of 35 aftershocks, with magnitudes varying from 2.7 to 5.4, were observed in Turkey following the powerful quake in eastern Turkey.
The agency also stated that hundreds of tents, beds and thousands of blankets were dispatched to quake-battered cities in a bid to ease victims' trouble.
Turkish Red Crescent, for its part, announced that a crisis desk was founded in the capital Ankara, and rescue teams were dispatched to the areas hit by the quake.
It added that mobile kitchens -- which serve up to 5,000 people -- were sent to the region.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca moved to the region due to the earthquake in Sivrice, the epicenter of the quake in Elazig.
"Search and rescue teams were sent to the region, and further information is yet to come," Soylu said, adding that some buildings in the city center were damaged.
He also said that rural villages might have suffered damage to some extent, without giving further details.
National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the army was ready to step into action if need be.
Turkish parliamentary speaker Mustafa Sentop said: "Our biggest hope is that the death toll does not rise."
Davut Gul, the governor of Gaziantep province, said there were no life or material loss according to initial reports and offered condolences to locals.
Sanliurfa Governor Abdullah Erin said the situation did not look dire according to the initial reports, and added that the disaster agency stepped into action right after the incident.
Tuncay Sonel, the governor of Tunceli province, said the quake was felt in the province but it did not inflict heavy damage as authorities observed no casualties so far.
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Mustafa Akinci and Prime Minister Ersin Tatar offered condolences to the Turkish people.
Meanwhile, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias condoles with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu over 6.8-magnitude quake, saying Athens is ready to help Ankara.
The quake was also felt in many 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.
The AFAD first announced the quake with a magnitude of 6.8, but Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute in Istanbul shortly after said the magnitude was 6.5.
This is not the first quake Turkey has observed in 2020 as a 5.4-magnitude quake jolted western province of Manisa on Wednesday, whereas Ankara was rattled by a 4.5-magnitude quake on Thursday.
In 2010, Elazig province was hit by a 6-magnitude earthquake, killing a total of 51 people.