6.4-Magnitude Earthquake shakes Southern Turkey
According to AFAD, the disaster response agency, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake occurred on Tuesday in Hatay, a southern province of Turkey. This area was already the most severely affected by a previous tremor on February 6, which caused over 41,000 fatalities in the country.
At 8:04 pm (1704 GMT), an earthquake struck the town of Defne, which was experienced as a strong tremor by AFP teams located 200 kilometers (300 miles) north in Antakya and Adana.
The tremor was felt by AFP teams not only in Antakya and Adana but also in Lebanon and Syria, as per the disaster management agency’s tweet. The agency also reported that a 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck three minutes after the initial quake, with its epicenter located in the Samandag district of Hatay.
An AFP journalist described scenes of panic in Antakya, with the new tremors causing clouds of dust in the already devastated city.
Several people who appeared to be injured called for help as the walls of already badly damaged buildings crumbled.
On a street in Antakya, Ali Mazlum, 18, told AFP: “We were with AFAD who were looking for the bodies of our family when the quake hit.
“You don’t know what to do, we grabbed each other and right in front of us, the walls started to fall. It felt like the earth was opening up to swallow us up.”
While a digger was clearing a road that had been covered with rubble after the latest earthquake, Mazlum, a resident of Antakya for 12 years, was searching for the bodies of his sister and her family, along with his brother-in-law and his family, just a few meters away.
The disaster agency has issued a warning that the sea level along Hatay province, which is on the Mediterranean Sea, could increase by 50 centimeters due to the latest earthquake.
Turkish Vice President, Fuat Oktay, has taken to Twitter to urge people to steer clear of damaged buildings and to follow the instructions of officials.
According to AFAD, over 6,000 aftershocks have been recorded since the massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria and left millions homeless. Officials predict that aftershocks will continue to be felt for a year because of the force of the first tremor.
In Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city, AFP correspondents reported that people rushed to the streets after the recent earthquake.
An AFP photographer in Azaz, further north, reported that some of the buildings that were damaged in the previous earthquake had collapsed.
The earthquake that struck on February 6 caused the deaths of 41,156 people in Turkey and 3,688 in Syria. Rescue operations are still underway in only two provinces – Hatay and Kahramanmaras – out of the 11 provinces that were affected by the earlier tremors.
The quake caused extensive damage to more than 118,000 buildings in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria.
On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyab Erdogan vowed to construct almost 200,000 new, sturdier homes no taller than four storeys within a year. The death toll is expected to rise as rubble is cleared and rescue operations continue.
Published in the LogicalBaat, 21-February,2023.