A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked wide swaths of Turkey and Syria early Monday, toppling hundreds of buildings and killing more than 2,300 people. Hundreds were still believed to be trapped under rubble, and the toll was expected to rise as rescue workers searched mounds of wreckage in cities and towns across the area.
On both sides of the border, residents jolted out of sleep by the pre-dawn quake rushed outside on a cold, rainy and snowy night. Buildings were reduce to piles of pancaked floors, while major aftershocks, some nearly as strong as the first, continued.
The quake, felt as far away as Cairo, was centered north of Gaziantep, a Turkish provincial capital.
The region sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes. Some 18,000 were killed in a similarly powerful earthquakes that hit northwest Turkey in 1999.
The U.S. Geological Survey measured Monday's quake at 7.8. Hours later, a 7.5 magnitude one struck more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) away. An official from Turkey’s disaster management agency said it was a new earthquake, not an aftershock, though its effects were not immediately clear.
Nearly 1,500 people were killed in 10 Turkish provinces, with some 8,500 injured, according to the president of the country's disaster management agency. The death toll in government-held areas of Syria climbed over 430 people, with some 1,280 injured, according to the Health Ministry. In the country’s rebel-held northwest, groups that operate there said the death toll was at least 380, with many hundreds injured.