An earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale rocked southwestern Turkey Wednesday, sparking panic and causing residents to flee their homes, Anatolia news agency reported.
The quake struck at 5:05 pm (1505 GMT), shaking provinces around the eastern town of Hakkari, its epicenter, close to the borders with Iraq and Iran.
No immediate reports of injuries or material damage were available, said Anatolia.
Tremors were felt in the provinces of Diyarbakir, Bitlis and Hakkari, while residents in the eastern town of Van fled the buildings they were at.
Turkey, which is located in a high-risk seismological zone, was struck by three severe quakes in the northwestern part of the country in 1999.
A major earthquake measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale killed nearly 20,000 people and wreaked havoc throughout northwest Turkey on August 17, 1999.
Another tremor, two months later, measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale, killed 894 people and injured around 5,000 more.
Since then several small quakes have resulted in several more deaths, mostly linked to panic rushes, but caused only minor damage.
Experts believe the movement of tectonic plates could result in earthquakes around Istanbul within the next few decades, placing 12 million residents at risk -- ISTANBUL (AFP)
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