ISTANBUL, Turkey – A moderate earthquake leveled stone and mud houses in an eastern Turkey village Friday, killing 18 people and injuring 27, officials said.
The earthquake struck at about 1:30 a.m., causing heavy damage in Yigincal, a village near the Iranian border. Damage also was reported in nearby villages in the same area of Dogubeyazit (search) province.
The Anatolia news agency reported 67 homes in Yigincal were destroyed, and that six of those killed were children younger than 10.
Television pictures showed village women wailing outside their homes, which were reduced to piles of stone, wood and mud.
The Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory (search) put the magnitude of the quake at 5.0. Several aftershocks were reported.
The Red Crescent (search) sent tents and blankets to the scene. Tents were raised to shelter those whose homes were destroyed, but some residents were still sifting through the rubble for their possessions.
An elderly woman wept over what appeared to be the bodies of her loved ones. Children huddled in blankets and residents combed through their wrecked homes looking for their possessions.
Funerals for most of those killed were held Friday, Anatolia said.
"We share your pain. Your wounds will be healed soon," Turkey's Energy Minister Hilmi Guler told villagers on behalf of the government.
The local governor, Huseyin Yavuzdemir, blamed the deaths on poor construction of the homes. Many people leave the village in the summer for mountain pastures, which probably kept the death toll from being higher, he said.
Yavuzdemir told Anatolia that rescue operations were completed and the death toll was not expected to rise. Tents were erected for survivors whose homes were destroyed.
Quakes are frequent in Turkey, which lies on the active faults. Two massive earthquakes hit northwestern Turkey in 1999, killing about 18,000 people.
In March, 10 people were killed in a magnitude 5.1 earthquake that destroyed mud-brick homes in 15 villages in nearby Erzurum. Most of the dead were children sleeping in their beds.