A 5.6-magnitude earthquake has killed at least 10 people in eastern Turkey, less than three weeks after a massive quake killed more than 600 in the same area, a government disaster management centre has said.
Wednesday’s quake struck at 9:23pm local time (19:23 GMT) in the province of Van, which was hit by a 7.2 earthquake on October 23.
At least 27 people were rescued the latest earthquake, according to the Turkish officials.
Television footage showed residents and rescuers trying to lift debris to evacuate people. It was not clear how many people were trapped under the rubble in the provincial capital of Van.
The quake collapsed 25 buildings, 22 of which were empty, Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said from the scene. “Search and rescue operations are continuing in three buildings,” he added.
Though most of the affected buildings were either empty or deemed unfit for human habitation, two were described as hospitals – one severely damaged and a maternal hospital set ablaze following the tremors.
One of the collapsed buildings, the Bayram hotel, known as Van’s oldest, was being used by journalists and aid workers in the city.
Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught said that rescue teams had mobilised more rapidly than in the quake two weeks ago.
“They have the equipment and forces they need on hand,” she said.
Nine planes carrying almost 300 rescuers were dispatched to the quake region, national television said, as rescue operations were carried out with mechanical diggers under arc lights.
There had been another earthquake of similar magnitude earlier in the day on Wednesday.
NTV television said rescue teams were sent to the region from the capital Ankara and other areas, a week after workers had begun clearing debris from the earlier quake.
The Turkish Red Crescent has sent 15,000 tents and 300 rescue workers to aid in the efforts.
About 1,400 aftershocks have rocked the region since the October earthquake. Many residents have been living in tents, despite the cold, too afraid to return to their homes.
Sahin Tokay, a restaurant owner in Van, told Al Jazeera that he still feared for the safety of his home following last month’s earthquake.
Since that quake, Tokay said every day his family had been trying to get a tent from the government.
He was in his home with his family at the time of Wednesday’s quake and said “we don’t think anyone will help us tonight, so we will stay on the street tonight”.
Muzaffer Baca, vice-president of the International Blue Crescent, a Turkish aid agency, told Al Jazeera that the state was doing everything to respond to this earthquake, but that a lack of co-ordination became evident in the villages outside Van where “the most in need are suffering”.
Citing upcoming winter weather set to hit below zero, Baca said what was most needed now “are heaters, blankets and tents for shelter”.
At least 2,000 buildings were destroyed in October’s earthquake and authorities declared another 3,700 buildings unfit for habitation.