Tens of thousands of residents fled into the streets running, screaming and trying to reach relatives on cell phones. As the full extent of the damage became clear, desperate survivors dug into the rubble with their bare hands, trying to rescue the trapped and the injured.Reuters adds that fear and pandemonium are evident.
Rescuers, working under floodlights, tried to reach the trapped and ambulance crews waited near two fallen buildings, one of them an apartment block that had been several storeys high.
Three teenagers were trapped under a collapsed building right beside me. People were climbing over the rubble shouting: "Is there anyone there?"
The death count will climb, perhaps almost into the thousands. The international humanitarian effort will begin almost instantly.
One elderly rescue worker sat exhausted on the rubble, tears streaming through the dust covering his face, before people led him away.