Turkey: Rescue workers searched for survivors under the rubble of collapsed hotels in Van, eastern Turkey on Thursday after an earthquake killed at least seven people, less than three weeks after another had killed 600 in the same area.

Search and rescue teams worked through the night and have rescued 23 people from the ruins of two hotels, a statement from Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Administration (AFAD) said.

State television channel TRT said at least 100 people may still be trapped under collapsed buildings after the magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck 16 km (9 miles) south of the city of Van at 1923 GMT on Wednesday.

One reporter said as many as 70 people may have been staying at one of the hotels.

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay, who visited the collapsed Bayram Hotel with Turkey's foreign minister, said 25 buildings had collapsed in Van, of which 22 were empty. Only two hotels and a residential block had people living there.

Some 22 planes were carrying rescue and medical teams to the region, AFAD said.

Two of those rescued, including a 16-month-old, were flown by air ambulance to a hospital in the capital Ankara.

Rescue workers pulled a Japanese woman to safety from the rubble of the Bayram Hotel almost six hours after the quake, state-run Anatolian news agency reported.

Miyuki Konnai was part of a rescue and relief team sent to Van from Japan after the first quake. She was found injured but conscious and could be seen talking to her rescuers as she was carried to an ambulance.

Television footage showed panicked people running through the streets of Van and ambulances rushing through the city with their sirens wailing. Medical staff treated one unconscious person lying on an ambulance stretcher.

Wednesday's earthquake comes after a 7.6 magnitude tremor hit just northeast of Van on October 23. There have been hundreds of aftershocks since and thousands of people are still camping out in tents in freezing conditions.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who had been in the nearby town of Ercis at the time of the quake on Wednesday, visited the crisis coordination centre in Van, Anatolian said. Ercis was the worst hit area in last month's quake.

Around 30 ambulances stationed in Ercis were sent to Van in the wake of the tremor. Ercis is some 60 km north of Van.

Other rescue teams were travelling to the quake zone from the nearby provinces of Mus and Agri.

Turkey is criss-crossed with seismic faultiness and experiences small tremors nearly every day. Some 20,000 people were killed by two large earthquakes in western Turkey in 1999.

(Agencies)