The most powerful earthquake to hit Turkey left at least 1,000 people dead.

The earthquake measuring six-point-seven on the Richter scale struck the industrialised town of Izmit in western Turkey at just after 0300 on Tuesday local time.

Many residents of the heavily populated town were asleep in bed and had no chance of escape.

Few of Izmit's buildings were built to withstand earthquakes and whole districts collapsed.

Buildings were also destroyed in Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, about 50 miles (80 km) north west of Izmit.

Parts of the motorway between Ankara and Istanbul buckled, causing cars to crash into each other.

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