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Rescuers are seen outside a collapsed building after an earthquake in Elazig, Turkey, on Jan. 24, 2020.

STRINGER/Reuters

Turkish officials say at least 14 people have been killed in an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 that shook the country’s east, injuring more than 300 and leaving several trapped.

The earthquake struck near the town of Sivrice in eastern Elazig province, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency said Friday.

People in Elazig whose homes were damaged or were too afraid to go indoors were being moved to student dormitories or sports centre amid freezing conditions.

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An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 rocked eastern Turkey on Friday, causing some buildings to collapse, killing at least eight people, injuring more than 300 and leaving several trapped, Turkish officials said.

The quake struck at 1755 GMT, 8:55 p.m. local time, at a depth of 6.7 kilometres near the town of Sivrice in the eastern Elazig province, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said. It was followed by several aftershocks, the strongest with magnitudes 5.4 and 5.1.

Elazig is some 750 kilometres (465 miles) east of the capital, Ankara.

Governor Cetin Oktay Kaldirim told NTV television that three people died in the province. State-run Anadolu Agency quoted Gov. Aydin Barus as saying five other people died in his nearby Malatya province.

At least 225 people were injured in Elazig and 90 in Malatya.

Kaldirim said a fire broke out in a building in Sivrice but was quickly brought under control.

Earlier, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told NTV television that rescuers were trying to reach survivors after a four- or five-story building collapsed in the town of Maden, in Elazig. Around 4-5 buildings collapsed in Sivrice, where two people were hurt, he said.

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Local administrator Cuma Telceken said up to seven people are believed to be trapped inside two collapsed buildings in Maden. Television footage showed rescuers searching for survivors among debris.

Soylu was at a meeting on earthquake preparedness when the quake struck.

Rescue teams from neighbouring provinces were dispatched to the affected areas, Anadolu Agency reported. Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said troops were on standby to help is they are needed.

The Kandilli seismology centre in Istanbul said the quake measured 6.5., while the U.S. Geological Survey gave the preliminary magnitude as 6.7, and said the quake affected not only Turkey but also Syria, Georgia and Armenia.

Different earthquake monitoring centres frequently give differing estimates.

NTV said the earthquake was felt in several Turkish provinces and sent people running outdoors in panic.

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Turkey sits on top of two major fault-lines and earthquakes are frequent. Two strong earthquakes struck northwest Turkey in 1999, killing around 18,000 people.

A magnitude 6 earthquake killed 51 people in Elazig in 2010.

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