A second earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 hit the Syrian capital Damascus on Monday, state media reported. The earlier earthquake killed at least 2,600 people and injured thousands more in Syria and Turkey early Monday morning.
At least 2,600 people were killed and more than 5,000 people were injured due to a magnitude-7.8 earthquake that struck central Turkey, according to Turkish officials.
Turkish president Erdogan said it was the country's largest disaster since 1939, adding that 2,818 buildings collapsed as a result. 45 countries have offered help with search and rescue efforts, the Turkish president said.
The quake, which hit in the early darkness of a winter morning, was also felt in Cyprus and Lebanon.
At least 371 people were killed in Syria in the incident, according to the Syrian state news agency.
The toll reported by state media is thought to include only those living in government-held areas.
A health official in Syria's hard-hit Aleppo province told Reuters some residents were still under the rubble and wounded people were flocking to hospitals in waves.
The airport in the southern Turkish province of Adana closed for flights following the major earthquakes, the private Demiroren news agency said. The airport reopened a few hours later, according to the Turkish Transportation Ministry.
The Turkish Defense Ministry said that armed forces have set up an air aid corridor to the earthquake zone.
The tremor lasted about a minute and shattered windows, according to a Reuters witness in Diyarbakir, 350 km (218 miles) to the east, where a security official said at least 17 buildings collapsed.
Turkish authorities scrambled rescue teams and supply aircraft to the region around the city of Kahramanmaras, while declaring a "level 4 alarm" that calls for international assistance.
Early statements by officials suggested the death toll was at least 23 in Turkey's Malatya province, 17 in Sanliurfa, six in Diyarbakir and five more in Osmaniye. South across the border in Syria, state media said 42 had been killed.
"I have never felt anything like it in the 40 years I've lived," said Erdem, a resident of the Turkish city of Gaziantep, near the quake's epicenter, who declined to give his surname.
"We were shaken at least three times very strongly, like a baby in a crib."
"I have never felt anything like it in the 40 years I've lived,"Erdem, resident of Gaziantep
It was still too dark to see the nature of the damage, he added.
"Everybody is sitting in their cars, or trying to drive to open spaces away from buildings," he said, speaking by telephone. "I imagine not a single person in Gaziantep is in their homes now."
President Tayyip Erdogan spoke by telephone with the governors of eight affected provinces to gather information on the situation and rescue efforts, his office said in a statement.
President Bashar al-Assad was holding an emergency cabinet meeting to review the damage and discuss the next steps, his office said.
The tremor lasted about a minute and shattered windows, according to a Reuters witness in Diyarbakir, 350 km (218 miles)to the east, where a security official said at least 17 buildings collapsed.
Local authorities said 16 structures collapsed in Sanliurfa and 34 in Osmaniye.
Broadcasters TRT and Haberturk showed footage of people picking through building wreckage, moving stretchers and seeking survivors in Kahramanmaras, where it was still dark.
"Our primary job is to carry out the search and rescue work and to do that all our teams are on alert," Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told reporters.
"Because of the strong winds outside, I thought it was the arrival of the storm Barbara. Long seconds passed before I realized that the earthquake was inside the house."Haifa resident
Tremors felt across the Middle East, Mediterranean
Elsewhere in the region, people in the Lebanese cities of Beirut and Tripoli ran into the street and took their cars to get away from their buildings in case they collapsed, witnesses said.
In Israel, residents of the Tel Aviv area, Beit She'an and Jerusalem reported feeling the aftershock tremors of the quake. Israeli police stated that they received more than 3,000 of such reports, according to CNN.
There have been no injuries or damage in Israel, the report stated.
At least 18 aftershocks with a magnitude over 4 were recorded from the quake, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
A resident of Haifa recounted the experience to Walla News, saying that "because of the strong winds outside, I thought it was the arrival of the storm Barbara. Long seconds passed before I realized that the earthquake was inside the house."
US President Biden directed USAID and other federal government partners to assess response options to the most affected areas in the Turkey and Syria earthquake, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement on Sunday.
The United States is profoundly concerned by the reports of the destructive earthquake, he said.
Earthquake measured 10km deep - GFZ
The German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) said the quake struck at a depth of 10 km (6 miles), while the EMSC monitoring service said it was assessing the risk of a tsunami.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) reported a series of further earthquakes following the initial tremor, which it put at a magnitude of 7.8. There was a quake measuring 6.7 in Gaziantep and another of 5.6 in the city's Nurdag area.
"Paintings fell off the walls in the house," said Samer, a resident of the capital, Damascus. "I woke up terrified. Now we're all dressed and standing at the door."Samer, Damascus resident
Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) put the magnitude of the quake at 7.4 near Kahramanmaras and the larger city of Gaziantep, close to the Syrian border.
Syrian state media said a large number of buildings collapsed in the province of Aleppo, while a source in the Hama civil service said several buildings had collapsed there.
"Paintings fell off the walls in the house," said Samer, a resident of the capital, Damascus. "I woke up terrified. Now we're all dressed and standing at the door."
Tremors were also felt overnight in Ankara, 460 km (286 miles) northwest of the epicenter, and in Cyprus, where police reported no damage.
The area is regularly hit by strong earthquakes.
"The earthquake struck in a region that we feared. There is serious widespread damage," Kerem Kinik, the chief of the Turkish Red Crescent relief agency, told Haberturk, issuing an appeal for blood donations.
International responses to deadly earthquake
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen sent his condolences to the Turkish people in the wake of the disaster.
"On behalf of the State of Israel, I would like to express deep sorrow to the Turkish people for the severe earthquake that struck southern Turkey tonight," he said.
"Our hearts go out to the victims and we wish the injured a speedy recovery. I have instructed the Foreign Ministry to lead a rapid aid program for Turkey to deal with the severe disaster."
The United States was "profoundly concerned" about the quake in Turkey and Syria and was monitoring events closely, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Twitter.
"I have been in touch with Turkish officials to relay that we stand ready to provide any and all needed assistance," he said.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said that his country was ready to provide necessary assistance to "friendly" Turkish people in the aftermath of the earthquake.
"Shocked by the news about the death and injury of hundreds of people as a result of the earthquake in Turkey," Zelenskiy said on Twitter.
"We extend our condolences to the families of the victims and wish the injured a speedy recovery. We are in this moment close to the friendly Turkish people, ready to provide the necessary assistance."
The European Union on Monday said ten search and rescue teams had been mobilized in the wake of the major earthquake that has hit Turkey.
"Ten Urban Search and Rescue teams have been quickly mobilized from Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania to support the first responders on the ground," EU commissioners Josep Borrell and Janez Lenarcic said in a statement.
"Italy and Hungary have offered their rescue teams to Türkiye as well."
China is willing to provide humanitarian emergency aid to earthquake-struck Turkey and Syria, State Council's foreign aid agency said on Monday.
China expressed condolences and concern for the loss of life and property, and is in communications with both Turkey and Syria, a spokesperson from China International Development Cooperation Agency said.