At least six children were among the dead and 46 people injured in the quake overnight on Thursday.

The tremor struck a rural area of Erzurum province, about
900km east of the capital Ankara, levelling almost every structure in this village of one-story stone and mud houses in an elevated area.  

The ministry said Askale county was the epicentre of the quake. As many as 51 aftershocks shook the region.

The Turkish Red Crescent set up around 40 tents for
survivors and was erecting hundreds more to shelter almost all of the village's 500 or so residents. 

The rescue operation, involving some 60 workers, ended on
Friday morning, officials at the scene said. 

Turkey is criss-crossed with earthquake fault lines and poor construction of buildings has often led to an unnecessarily high toll.

In May 2003, at least 167 people, including many schoolchildren, were killed by a quake in the eastern province of Bingol.

In 1999, around 20,000 people were killed by a quake measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale near Turkey's biggest city Istanbul.