A powerful earthquake struck south-eastern Turkey, near the Syrian border, killing over 1,000 people while they slept and trapping many more.
The 7.8 magnitude tremor occurred at 04:17 local time (01:17 GMT) at a depth of 17.9km (11 miles) near the city of Gaziantep, according to the US Geological Survey.
According to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the death toll has risen to 912.
More than 500 people were killed in Syria, with victims in both government and rebel-held areas.
The Syrian health ministry reported 371 deaths in the provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, and Tartus.
The White Helmets rescue organization, which operates in rebel-controlled areas of northwestern Syria, announced on Twitter that at least 147 people had died there.
There are fears the number of deaths will rise sharply in the coming hours.
Many buildings have collapsed and rescue teams have been deployed to search for survivors under huge piles of rubble.
Among the buildings destroyed was Gaziantep Castle, a historical landmark that had stood for more than 2,000 years.
The earthquake’s epicenter was in the Pazarcik district of Kahramanmaras province. Suleymon Soylu, Turkey’s Interior Minister, said ten cities were affected: Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Hatay, Osmaniye, Adiyaman, Malatya, Sanliurfa, Adana, Diyarbakir, and Kilis.
According to officials, at least 80 people were killed in Gaziantep, while 70 died in Kahramanmaras.
At least 47 people were killed in Malatya province, north-east of Gaziantep. There were 18 fatalities in Sanliurfa, to the east. Other fatalities have been reported in various locations, including Diyarbakir and Osmaniye.
In Turkey, at least 5,385 people were injured, while 1,000 were injured in Syria.
Lebanon and Cyprus were also affected by the tremor.
“I was writing something when suddenly the entire building started shaking, and yes, I didn’t really know what to feel,” Mohamad El Chamaa, a student in Beirut, told the BBC.
“I was standing right next to the windows and was terrified that they would shatter. It lasted four to five minutes and was quite terrifying. It was astounding “he explained.
Rushdi Abualouf, a BBC producer in Gaza, reported 45 seconds of shaking in his home.
Turkish seismologists estimated the strength of the quake to be 7.7 magnitude. They said that a second tremor hit the region just minutes later.
Several hours after that, another strong aftershock was detected in several cities in southern Turkey.
Turkey lies in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones.
In 1999, more than 17,000 people were killed after a powerful tremor rocked the north-west of the country.