An earthquake in the early hours of Monday morning has struck southern Turkey and north-west Syria, causing explosions in two separate parts of a natural gas pipeline in Hatay province.
State pipeline operator Botas has suspended natural gas flows through the line to the Gasiantep, Hatay, and Kahramanmaras provinces as well as other districts as a precautionary measure, Reuters reports.
Operations at the Ceyhan oil terminal in southern Turkey have also been suspended and an emergency meeting about the situation is being held, a spokesperson for Botas says. The Ceyhan terminal sits 155km (96 miles) away from the earthquake’s epicentre, which lies just outside the city of Gasiantep.
However, there is currently no reported damage to the Kerkuk-Ceyham or the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyham crude oil pipelines. Oil flows are continuing on both.
The initial earthquake had a magnitude of 7.8, with tremors reaching as far as Cyprus and Lebanon. This makes the earthquake one of the most powerful in the region in at least a century.
An almost equally severe second quake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck Turkey again at 2pm local time, less than 12 hours after the first. Al Jazeera reported that the immediate effects of this could be felt by residents in Damascus.
Turkish authorities have confirmed 1,541 deaths in Turkey, with another 810 reported in Syria, taking the combined death toll to over 2,300, according to Al Jazeera. Thousands more are injured or missing. As search and rescue attempts continue, these numbers are expected to rise significantly.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a press conference earlier that “we do not know how high the casualty numbers will go, as efforts to lift the debris continue in several buildings in the earthquake zone.”