Major Earthquake Strikes Turkey

The death toll is rising as officials rush to survey the damage.

Posted: 10/23/2011 11:06 AM EDT
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

A 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked Turkey on Sunday, leaving nearly 45 buildings destroyed.

Turkish authorities have confirmed thirty deaths so far, but estimates say that a total of nearly 1,000 people could have been killed by the quake. Officials are still surveying the damage from the quake, which consisted of one major tremor and at least seven aftershocks, and have yet to report on how rural regions have fared.

"We are estimating a death toll between 500 and 1,000," Mustafa Erdik, head of the Kandilli observatory, told a televised news conference.

Sunday’s tremor began at 1:41 p.m. local time and occurred in the mountainous eastern province of Van near a major fault line. Just hours after the quake, Turkish officials made public appeals for assistance with rescue and recovery efforts.

"There are so many dead. Several buildings have collapsed. There is too much destruction," said local mayor Zulfikar Arapoglu, according to USA Today. "We need urgent aid. We need medics."