Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) — Turkey was struck by its most powerful earthquake in at least a decade Sunday, as a major tremor and at least seven aftershocks rattled the poor east of the country.
Some 25 apartment buildings and a student dormitory collapsed in the town of Ercis on the north shore of Lake Van, the Turkish Red Crescent said.
Local rescuers took many wounded people out of the dormitory, the Red Crescent statement said, without saying exactly how many.
They called for rescue workers, heavy machinery and drinking water, and set up a crisis desk in the capital Ankara.
Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said 10 buildings had collapsed in the center of the city of Van, citing local authorities.
Health Minister Recep Akdag said an air ambulance and several helicopters would go to the quake zone.
Television pictures from Van Province showed rescuers and members of the public climbing over massive piles of cinderblocks that had been a building before the earthquake hit.
Ambulances and bulldozers were on the scene.
A seven-story building collapsed on Kazim Karabekir Street in the city of Van, and more buildings were reduced to rubble the village of Tabanli in Van Province, the Anatolian news agency said. It was unknown how many people were trapped.
Video from CNN Turk showed the inside of shaking buildings, and people gathering outside on the streets.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will fly to the area Sunday afternoon, his office said.
Israel offered Turkey “any help if may require” after the earthquake, Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s office said. Israel and Turkey, once close allies, saw a deterioration in relations in a dispute over an Israeli naval commando raid on the Gaza-bound ship Mavi Marmara, in which nine Turkish activists were killed.
Turkey is “no stranger to having these seismic events,” but Sunday’s quake is considered major, CNN Meteorologist Reynolds Wolf reported.
The U.S. Geological Survey initially reported the quake had a magnitude of 7.3, then revised it down to 7.2.
The last quake of that magnitude in Turkey — a 7.2 tremor in Duzce in 1999 — killed 894 people, the USGS reported. A 7.6 earthquake in Izmit, Turkey, killed more than 17,000 people the same year, according to the USGS.
Sunday’s major quake hit at 1:41 p.m. local time and was followed by at least seven aftershocks, American and Turkish monitoring agencies reported.
It took place about 12 miles from Van, the USGS said.
An official Turkish monitoring office reported aftershocks ranging in magnitude from 2.6 to 5.8, all within an hour of the first quake.
The USGS reported a depth of 4.5 miles, or 7.2 kilometers; the center in Turkey said the quake was about 3 miles, or 5 kilometers, deep.
One concern is displacement of water along Lake Van, which could send water gushing into nearby areas, particularly along the west side, Wolf reported.