The magnitude-6.8 quake, centred on the town of Sivrice in Elazig province, caused buildings to collapse and sent residents rushing into the street.
Thirty-nine people have been pulled from the wreckage, with more than 20 feared to remain trapped, rescuers say.
Earthquakes are common in Turkey – about 17,000 people died in a quake in the western city of Izmit in 1999.
Friday’s quake struck at about 20:55 local time (17:55 GMT).
Tremors were also felt in neighbouring Syria, Lebanon and Iran.