A powerful earthquake struck southeast Turkey and Syria Monday, killing dozens and causing significant damage, with further casualties feared. 

Several Turkish provinces reported damage, and rescue teams were being sent from around the country. 

At least 130 buildings tumbled down in Malatya province, Gov. Hulusi Sahin said. Authorities there have retrieved three bodies and around 100 people have been hospitalized, he said. The most recent reports brought the death toll in Turkey to at least 18.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter that “search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched” to areas hit by the quake.

“We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage,” he wrote.

A man walks past by a collapsed building after an earthquake in Malatya, Turkey
A man walks past a collapsed building after an earthquake in Malatya, Turkey on Monday. (Reuters)

At least six aftershocks were recorded.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu urged people not to enter damaged buildings due to the risks.

“Our priority is to bring out people trapped under ruined buildings and to transfer them to hospitals,” he said.

In Syria, 11 deaths have been reported so far. Dr. Muheeb Qaddour in the northwestern town of Atmed told The Associated Press by telephone that they have 11 deaths in the town alone. 

He added that others are buried under the rubble. He said: “We fear that the deaths are in the hundreds.”

A mother and child were killed in Idlib province, Syria, according to the Syrian American Medical Society.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 7.8 magnitude quake was centred about 33 kilometres from Gaziantep, a major Turkish city and provincial capital. 

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