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Turkey earthquake leaves 270 dead; fears held for hundreds more

At least 270 people are confirmed killed in the 7.2-magnitude in eastern Turkey, with fears the death toll could rise to 1,000 or more.

At least 117 people died in the district of Ercis and another 100 in Van, according to Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin. At least 740 people are reported injured, he said on Monday, and hundreds are still missing.

The total number of casualties is likely to be between 500 and 1,000, according to figures from Turkey’s seismology institute cited by the Telegraph.

Aid groups had begun to set up tents and field hospitals to help the tents of thousands left homeless in the freezing conditions.

The earthquake struck at 1:41 p.m. local time at a depth of 12.4 miles, with its epicenter 10 miles north-east of Van, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The Associated Press reports that U.S. scientists recorded over 100 aftershocks in eastern Turkey within 10 hours of the quake, including one with a magnitude of 6.0. 

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan flew to the hardest-hit region of Van to oversee rescue efforts, Bloomberg reports.

Erdogan said that owing to the number of apartment buildings that collapsed, the toll could rise, the Telegraph reports.

Bloomberg also quotes officials from the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute in Istanbul as saying that up to 1,000 people may have died.

World leaders have offered assistance to Turkey, including Israel, despite tense relations between the two countries since Israeli commandos killed nine Turks during a raid on an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip in 2010.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was hosting New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in Israel, said he had instructed all branches of government to offer any help possible to Turkey, as Turkey did for Israel during the Carmel forest fire.

“I think it’s what neighbors should be doing with one another,” Netanyahu said, Israel National News reports.

According to the BBC, Erdogan “thanked other countries for their offers of help but said Turkey could cope with the disaster on its own.”

In response, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak reportedly said: “I am under the impression the Turks do not want our help.” 

“Right now [their answer] is negative but if they see they need more aid and don’t have it, or if they rethink it, we have made the offer and remain prepared [to help],” Reuters quotes Barak as adding:

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