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UK in aid offer to quake-hit Turkey

Foreign Secretary William Hague has offered UK help to Turkey, after an earthquake hit the eastern part of the country, causing "immense destruction" and "terrible loss of life".

Mr Hague sent his "deepest condolences" to friends and loved ones of those affected when the 7.2-magnitude quake struck eastern Turkey.

Associated Press reported state-run television said 45 people were killed and 150 others injured in the eastern town of Ercis, but scientists estimated up to 1,000 could already be dead, due to low housing standards and the size of the quake.

In a statement Mr Hague said: "Today's earthquake in eastern Turkey has caused immense destruction, resulting in terrible loss of life. I send my deepest condolences to the friends and loved ones of those who have died or been affected. My thoughts are with those who are anxiously awaiting news from the rescue efforts. The UK is ready to provide assistance, in line with any request from the Turkish authorities. We stand with Turkey at this difficult time."

Ercis, a town of 75,000 in the mountainous province of Van close to the Iranian border, was the hardest hit, AP reported. The regional centre of Van, 55 miles to the south, also suffered substantial damage.

Mayor Zulfikar Arapoglu told NTV Television: "There are so many dead. Several buildings have collapsed. There is too much destruction. We need urgent aid. We need medics."

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said the governor was touring the region by helicopter to assess damage.

Authorities did not provide a casualty figure but Mustafa Erdik, head of the Kandilli observatory, Turkey's main seismography centre, said they were estimating a death toll of between 500 and 1,000.

The earthquake is believed to have shaken buildings in neighbouring Armenia, as well as causing panic in several Iranian towns.


From Belfast Telegraph