Hundreds of people were killed in a powerful earthquake that struck eastern Turkey Sunday morning, according to Turkish sources.
"There are so many dead. Several buildings have collapsed; there is too much destruction," Ercis mayor Zulfikar Arapoglu told NTV television, the Associated Press reported.
"We need urgent aid, we need medics," he added.
The mid-day earthquake was recorded at 7.3 on the Richter scale, according to a Greek news agency, and 6.6 by the Associated Press.
The center of the quake was 12 miles northeast of the city of Van, the capital of the province with the same name, and struck 4.5 miles deep.
The Istanbul-based Kandilli Seismology Center said tremors were felt in distant cities.
The epicenter was near the border with Iran.
Earthquakes are frequent in Turkey, which is situated on fault lines, and approximately 18,000 people were killed in two earthquakes in 1999. Israel assisted Turkey in rescue and recovery missions after the tragedy, but Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bitterness towards Israel the past two years will place him in an uncomfortable position if Turkey suffers from refusing Israeli assistance, if needed.