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Opposition calls for cooperation between gov’t, local authorities in message after massive quake

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Turkey’s opposition bloc has highlighted the importance of cooperation between the central government and local administrations in the wake of a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria early on Monday, local media reported.

The quake struck at 4:17 a.m. local time (0117 GMT) at a depth of about 17.9 kilometers (11 miles) near the Turkish city of Gaziantep, leveling buildings while many were still asleep and sending tremors that were felt as far away as Egypt and the island of Cyprus.

According to the latest statement by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, 912 were killed while 5,385 were injured in the earthquake, which destroyed 2,818 buildings.

The bloc, made up of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the İYİ (Good) Party, the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), the Future Party (GP), the Felicity Party (SP) and the Democrat Party (DP), released a written statement on social media after the massive temblor.

The group offered condolences for the passing of hundreds and wished a speedy recovery to the injured, also drawing attention to the importance of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s cooperation and coordination with local administrations.

“In the face of such a disaster, it is important that the central government work in strong cooperation and coordination with local governments without any discrimination. We will overcome these difficult days with the support and prayers of our nation. … We will overcome this disaster in unity and solidarity,” the statement said.

The earthquake was one of the most powerful to hit the region in at least a century, affecting southeastern parts of Turkey that are home to millions of refugees from Syria and other war-torn parts of the world.

Erdoğan will be under intense pressure to oversee an effective response to the disaster heading to a tightly contested May 14 election.

Turkey is in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones.

Turkey’s Marmara region suffered a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in 1999 — the worst to hit Turkey in decades.

That quake killed more than 17,000 people, including about 1,000 in İstanbul.

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