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Turkey has been hit by a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake leaving at least 1,400 people dead and buildings in ruins

A monster magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck in southern Turkey at around 04.17am local time (01.17am GMT) on Monday killing at least 2,300 people and leaving many more feared dead.

The UK has now joined the US, Ukraine and Israel in offering assistance to Turkey and Syria - which has also been affected - as the death toll continues to increase steeply.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) the number of those killed could reach 10,000.

Meanwhile, a second 7.5 magnitude earthquake has now hit Turkey - a tragedy that will almost certainly claim more lives.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said "search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched" to the areas hit after reports many buildings had been reduced to rubble.

"We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage," he wrote on Twitter.

UK foreign minister James Cleverly tweeted: "Tragic loss of life in the Türkiye and Syria earthquake.

"Our condolences go to the families of those who died and our thoughts are with the survivors.

"The UK stands ready to provide assistance."

The Netherlands is sending a search and rescue team to Turkey, says the country's foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra.

Further reports suggest that aftershocks have been felt in countries across the Middle East with Syria’s state media stating that some buildings have collapsed in the cities of Aleppo and Hama, while tremors have been reported as far afield as Egypt, Israel and Cyprus.

Syrian hospitals are "overwhelmed" and patients are "filling the hallways", according to the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS).

Images yet to be verified are circulating on social media showing fallen buildings and rubble in streets, with fires starting in several provinces.

A man living close to the tragedy told the InCyprus news outlet he had "never felt anything like it".

Erdem, who lives in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, added he was "shaken at least three times very strongly, like a baby in a crib".

He told the news outlet: "It was still too dark to see the nature of the damage. I have never felt anything like it in the 40 years I've lived.

"Everybody is sitting in their cars, or trying to drive to open spaces away from buildings.

"I imagine not a single person in Gaziantep is in their homes now."

A video shared by outlet BNO News shows Turkey's 2,200 year old Gaziantep Castle in ruins.

In addition, Malatya province Governor Hulusi Sahin said at least 130 buildings have tumbled down in his region alone.

Speaking on Twitter, storm chaser Sam Sagnella said: "Prelim M7.7 quake in SE Turkey, which appears to have been relatively shallow; probably felt across much of the region. Earthquakes of this magnitude generally require an international response. Significant destruction on a local level is likely.

"Really nasty business, and this quake has undoubtedly affected folks across the Middle East.

"According to the UN’s World Food Program automated disaster response feed, approximately 3,000,000 people live within 50km of the epicentre. In the context of prior incidents, this is likely to be a major catastrophe for those in the immediate vicinity."

Seismologist Dr Lucy Jones added: "Lots of information about the M7.8 in Turkey. The location of mainshock is near the intersection of the Dead Sea Transform fault and the East Anatolian fault. The focal mechanism could be either fault."

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, meanwhile, has urged people not to enter damaged buildings due to the risks.

He said: "Our priority is to bring out people trapped under ruined buildings and to transfer them to hospitals."

In hard-hit Syria the Syrian Civil Defense took to Twitter tell of the "disastrous" situation unfolding, reporting the collapse of several residential buildings adding that residents were still "trapped under the rubble" during the aftershocks.

"Syrian Civil Defense teams declare a state of emergency to rescue the stranded," a statement read.

Later it called on residents to "evacuate residential buildings, go to open spaces, and inform our teams about those trapped under the rubble."

Flights from two airports in Turkey have also been suspended with the southeastern Hatay Airport closed because of damage, according to the vice president, and civilian flights to and from Gaziantep Airport suspended.