The death toll of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, which hit Van province in eastern Turkey Sunday afternoon has increased to 279, while about 1,300 people were injured as on Monday. Hundreds of people continue to remain unaccounted for and Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin said they may be buried under rubble.

The rescue operation struggled to get into full swing as even the electricity was cut off after the earthquake. However, undaunted, survivors and emergency service workers used torches or floodlights powered by mobile generators to dig into the ruins. Some even used shovels to search for the victims.

Ercis, a town of 100,000, was devastated - 55 buildings were flattened, including a student dormitory.

We don't know how many people are in the ruins of collapsed buildings, it would be wrong to give a number, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who visited Ercis, said.

However, Because the buildings are made of adobe, they are more vulnerable to quakes. I must say that almost all buildings in such villages are destroyed, Erdogan said in a televised news conference in Van midnight Sunday.

Refugees have to live outdoor and the Turkish government and Thurih Red Crescent set up tents, field hospitals and kitchens to help the displaced.

We are working on supplying people with places to spend the night, find shelter. One hundred tents are being erected in the city stadium now, and 700 more will be put up in the municipality stadium, Sahin told Reuters in Ercis.

The hospital in the quake-hit area was destroyed and the medical personnel had to treat the injured in the garden. Bodies were being left outside the building, one nurse told CNN Turk news channel.

According to the military, two battalions had been sent to assist the relief operations. Ambulances, soldiers, emergency teams everywhere now, working on getting people out of collapsed buildings. I have seen many dead bodies being taken out, the teams are trying to find people alive, Reuters photographer Osman Orsal said.

However, the Turkey earthquake isn't the first deadly natural disaster to strike this year. Start the slideshow to review the painful moments of natural disasters that struck worldwide in 2011.