The Assosciated Press and Hurriyet Daily News have contributed to this report
In a country known for being home to deadly earthquakes, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake has struck the town of Simav in north western Turkey according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
At least three are dead and hundreds have been injured. Residents of the town were running through the streets in terror shortly after the quake struck 11.15pm (20.15 GMT) on Thursday.
An elderly woman died from a heart attack in a nearby town and two people in a state of panic jumped from a window to their death during the earthquake.
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One mosque collapsed and buildings were toppled over according to the latest reports.
Over 7,000 people are now living in tents and thousands of homes are deemed uninhabitable in Simav according to Gov. Kenan Ciftci of Kutahya province.
Turkish authorities have been striving to enforce stricter building codes after earthquakes in Turkey’s past have been blamed on shoddy construction after buildings toppled onto people killing them.
Many residents are complaining of dirty sanitary facilities and shortages of drinking water.
About 50 aftershocks as strong as 4.6 magnitude have also struck the area. Authorities urged residents to spend the night in their cars and avoid returning to their homes in case of aftershocks.
Buildings in the historic and populous city of Istanbul shook due to the earthquake and tremors were felt all over western Turkey including Bursa, and the city of Edirne, close to the Greek and Bulgarian borders.
“It was so strong that we could not even move in the first few seconds,” a lawmaker told NTV television. “People are waiting in their cars now.”
Earthquakes are common in Turkey were many prominent earthquake causing fault lines are found.
In March 2010, a 6.0-magnitude quake downed houses in five villages in eastern Turkey, killing 51 people. In 2003, a 6.4-magnitude quake killed 177 people in the southeastern city of Bingol, including 84 children who were buried when their school collapsed.
In 1999, two earthquakes with a magnitude of more than 7 struck northwestern Turkey, killing about 18,000 people.