The US President, Mr Barack Obama, offering condolences to the victims of a massive 7.2 earthquake in eastern Turkey, said the United States stood read to assist the country’s authorities.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Turkish ally in this difficult time, and are ready to assist the Turkish authorities,” he said in a statement.

Between 500 and 1,000 people were estimated to have been killed in the quake, which caused the collapse of dozens of buildings in Van, a city in eastern Turkey populated mainly by Kurds.

Mr Obama said he had been following reports of the disaster “with great concern.”

“On behalf of the American people, I express my deepest condolences to the families of the victims. Our thoughts and prayers are with the brave men and women who are working to bring assistance to this stricken region,” he said.