ISLAMABAD - Pakistani leaders on Saturday expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of life and property in Turkey’s earthquake and it stands by Turkey and its people and is ready to lend any assistance in this hour of need.

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of life and property in the earthquake, says a press release issued here by the ISPR. President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan also expressed shock and sorrow over these losses.

In his separate message, the President said that the Pakistani nation share the grief of their Turkish brothers and sisters and stand by them in this difficult hour. In a tweet, Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “Our prayers are with the brotherly people and government of Turkey.”

He said that Pakistan stands by them and is ready to lend any assistance in this hour of need.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also grieved over these losses.

In a statement, he expressed condolence with the leadership and people of Turkey. He said the entire Pakistani nation equally share the grief of their Turkish brothers and sisters in this hour of trial. The Foreign Minister prayed for the departed souls and early recovery of those injured in the earthquake.

Also Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Sardar Muhammad Masood Khan expressed grief and sorrow over the tragic losses of life and property by earthquake in Turkey and sympathy with Turkish government and people. In a message issued here Saturday by his office , the President said the government and people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir were standing with the Turkish people in this difficult and test time and feel their pain equally and pray for departed souls and early recovery of injured people in this catastrophe.

Masood said Turkish government had play a key role in rehabilitation and reconstruction in Azad Jammu and Kashmir after 2005 earthquake and will never forget their sympathy and cooperation and would reciprocate in this difficult time with Turkish people and government with the same gesture.

APP adds: Rescue workers raced against time Saturday to find survivors under the rubble after a powerful earthquake claimed 22 lives and left more than 1,200 injured in eastern Turkey. The magnitude 6.8 quake struck on Friday evening, with its epicentre in the small lakeside town of Sivrice in Elazig province, and was felt across neighbouring countries.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cancelled a speech in Istanbul and headed to Elazig where he attended the funeral of a woman and her son. He vowed the state would do “everything we can” to help those affected in a disaster he described as a “test”.

The Turkish government’s disaster and emergency management agency (AFAD) said 42 people had been rescued alive from collapsed buildings in Elazig. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said earlier on Saturday 22 people were estimated to be trapped under the rubble.

Turkish news channels showed live images of people rescued. Among those found alive was a woman called Azize who had contacted emergency authorities and spoken to a rescue worker by telephone, state news agency Anadolu reported.

Nearly 2,000 search and rescue personnel were sent to the region while thousands of beds, blankets and tents have been provided, the presidency said. The rescue efforts have been taking place in freezing temperatures as wood and plastic were burned to keep crowds warm.

Hundreds of people were anxiously waiting on the other side of police barriers including a man who gave his name as Mustafa. “I have three relatives in that building: one man, his wife and her mother. They are still under the rubble,” the 40-year-old said. “I was home during the earthquake. It lasted for so long, it was like a nightmare. I froze in the living room when it happened, my wife and our two children were screaming and running around,” he said.

Some 20 rescuers were on top of the remains of one collapsed building, slowly clearing the rubble one bucket at a time surrounded by broken wooden beams and concrete.

There have been 401 aftershocks including 14 that were above four in magnitude, AFAD said.  In 1999, a devastating 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Izmit in western Turkey, leaving more than 17,000 people dead including about 1,000 in Istanbul.