At least seven people are dead after an earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale hit eastern Turkey on Wednesday evening, causing a six-storey hotel and other buildings to collapse, trapping people inside them.
The earthquake comes just over two weeks after a 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck the Van region on October 23, killing at least 600 people.
According to the state-run TRT television network, Wednesday’s quake brought down the hotel as well as some buildings that had been damaged in the earlier quake. The Associated Press reported that TV footage showed residents and rescuers trying to lift debris to evacuate people believed to be trapped under the hotel. Some reports said that as many as 18 buildings had collapsed.
The Sky Turk television network said the hotel was being used by journalists and aid workers who were in the city. It was not known how many people were trapped inside.
NTV television reported that rescue teams were being sent to the region from the capital Ankara and other areas.
According to AP, about 1,400 aftershocks have rocked the region since the 7.2-magnitude earthquake. Many residents have been living in tents, too afraid to return to their homes, said the report.
At least 2,000 buildings were destroyed in the stronger quake and authorities declared another 3,700 buildings unfit for habitation.
Earlier on Wednesday morning, an earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale struck the region.
Turkey's Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute said on its website that the quake, which hit at 2:05 a.m. local time, hit the Kaustuk village of Adilcevaz town of Bitlis province. It shook up the Van province, as well as the Armenian capital of Yerevan.
Israel sent supplies and mobile homes to Turkey following the big earthquake. Turkey had initially refused to accept assistance from other countries, insisting it could cope with the disaster on its own.