Death Toll Rises in Turkey Quake as Erdogan Slams Social Media

Cagan Koc and Taylan Bilgic

(Bloomberg) -- A magnitude 6.8 earthquake in Turkey’s eastern Elazig province on Friday evening killed at least 31 people and injured hundreds. By Sunday, 45 people had been rescued from the rubble of collapsed buildings.

A total of 76 buildings were destroyed and 645 heavily damaged, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said in a statement. As many as 20 of the 640 aftershocks since the first temblor had a magnitude greater than 4 on the Richter scale, according to the agency.

Speaking on Sunday in Istanbul, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan targeted “provocative” social media posts about the earthquake. “Some messages are terrible, depraved,” he said, according to the Anadolu Agency. “For example, some question what the government has done about earthquakes in the past two decades.”

The earthquake occurred at 8:55 p.m. local time on Friday at a depth of 6.75 kilometers (4.2 miles) on the East Anatolia Fault Line. Tremors were felt in many cities across the region.

Prosecutors have launched an investigation into social media posts found to be “provocative,” Anadolu reported. Two people in Gaziantep province have been detained.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, Environment & Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca were in Elazig as of early Sunday to coordinate rescue efforts.

Turkey is situated in a seismically active area and is among countries, including China and Iran, that can experience catastrophic earthquakes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. In 1999, a 7.5-magnitude quake shook the western Marmara region killing thousands of people and damaging more than 300,000 buildings. The nation’s economy contracted 3.4% that year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Cagan Koc in Istanbul at ckoc2@bloomberg.net;Taylan Bilgic in Istanbul at tbilgic2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Onur Ant at oant@bloomberg.net, Lars Paulsson, Michael Gunn

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