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Turkiye shaken by 'biggest disaster' since 1939 Erzincan earthquake: President

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to press at Coordination Center of Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) after a 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit southern provinces of Turkiye on February 6, 2023 in Ankara, Turkiye. [Aytaç Ünal - Anadolu Agency ]
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to press at Coordination Center of Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) after a 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit southern provinces of Turkiye on February 6, 2023 in Ankara, Turkiye. [Aytaç Ünal - Anadolu Agency ]

Turkiye has experienced the "biggest disaster" in the last century after the 1939 Erzincan earthquake, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after a strong earthquake hit southern provinces on Monday morning, claiming the lives of at least 912 people, Anadolu News Agency reports.

"Tonight at 04:17, we were shaken by the biggest disaster since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake that we underwent in the last century," Erdogan said in the capital, Ankara.

Erdogan's remarks came after a 7.7 magnitude quake struck at 4:17 a.m. (0117GMT) and was centred in the Pazarcik district of southern Kahramanmaras province.

Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, Adana, Adiyaman, Malatya, Osmaniye, Hatay and Kilis provinces are heavily affected by the quake.

"So far, 912 of our citizens have lost their lives and 5,385 of our citizens have been injured," Erdogan said.

He added that the number of people rescued from the rubble has reached 2,470, and the number of buildings that collapsed is 2,818.

"Our state has taken action with all its institutions since the earthquake. All resources have been mobilised," the President said.

Some 9,000 personnel are currently carrying out search and rescue operations, Erdogan said, adding: "This number is constantly increasing with those who reach the region from outside."

He added that 10 more governors have been assigned to work with the regional governors in post-quake efforts.

The President warned that people and institutions that will go to the region for help should act in coordination with the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), saying: "Aid other than this causes confusion and makes it difficult to reach the goal."

He also called on the nation to be "one heart," saying: "I hope we will leave these disastrous days behind in unity and solidarity as a country and nation."

After the earthquake, condolences poured in from around the world, voicing solidarity with Turkiye.

"We have started to be contacted for international aid. Besides offers of assistance by NATO and the EU, 45 countries have reached out to us," Erdogan said.

Later on Monday, a new 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkiye, which was centred in the Elbistan district of Kahramanmaras, AFAD said.

READ: Turkiye interior minister to US ambassador: 'Take your dirty hands off Turkiye'

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