Quake jolts Turkey & Syria, 2,500 dead : The Tribune India

Quake jolts Turkey & Syria, 2,500 dead

7.8 on Richter scale | Multiple aftershocks | Thousands of buildings collapse | Rain, snow hamper rescue ops

Quake jolts Turkey & Syria, 2,500 dead

Rescue workers search for survivors in Diyarbakir

Adana (turkey), February 6

A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked wide swaths of Turkey and Syria early on Monday, toppling thousands of buildings and killing more than 2,500 people.

7.5 magnitude quake 9 hours later

The quake hit at the depth of 18 km; was centered in southern Turkey, near Syria’s northern border

In the first 11 hours, the region felt 13 significant aftershocks

Experts studying 7.5 magnitude quake 9 hours after main shock

It was strike-slip quake where tectonic plates slide past each other horizontally instead of

moving up and down

People trying to flee quake-hit regions caused traffic jams, hampering emergency services

Turkey had in Jan 2020 seen a major quake of 6.7 magnitude

A man carries an injured child. REUTERS

Thousands were still believed to be trapped under rubble. The toll is expected to rise as rescue workers searched mounds of wreckage in cities and towns across the area.

On both sides of the border, residents, jolted out of sleep by the pre-dawn quake, rushed outside on a cold, rainy and snowy night. Buildings were reduced to piles of pancaked floors. Major aftershocks or new quakes, including one nearly as strong as the first, continued to rattle the region. Rescue workers and residents

in multiple cities searched for survivors, working through tangles of metal and concrete. A hospital in Turkey collapsed and patients, including newborns, were evacuated from facilities in Syria.

In the Turkish city of Adana, a resident said three buildings near his house collapsed. “I don’t have the strength anymore,” one survivor could be heard calling out from beneath the rubble as rescue workers tried to reach him, he said.

“Since the debris removal efforts are continuing, we do not know how high the number of dead and injured will rise,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. “Hopefully, we will leave this disastrous day behind us in unity and solidarity as a nation.” The quake, which was centred on Turkey’s southeastern province of Kahramanmaras, was felt as far away as Cairo. It sent residents of Damascus rushing into the streets and jolted awake people in their beds in Beirut.

It struck a region that has been shaped on both sides of the border by more than a decade of civil war in Syria. On the Syrian side, the swath affected is divided between government-held territory and the country’s last opposition-held enclave, which is surrounded by Russian-backed government forces. Turkey, meanwhile, is home to millions of refugees from that conflict.

The opposition-held regions in Syria are packed with some 4 million people displaced from other parts of the country by the fighting. Many of them live in buildings that are already wrecked from past bombardments. Hundreds of families remained trapped in rubble, the opposition emergency organisation, called the White Helmets, said in a statement.

Strained health facilities and hospitals were quickly filled with injured, rescue workers said. Others had to be emptied, including a maternity hospital, according to the SAMS medical organisation.

The region sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes. Some 18,000 were killed in a similarly powerful earthquakes that hit northwest Turkey in 1999.

The US Geological Survey measured Monday’s quake at 7.8. Hours later, a 7.5 magnitude quake struck more than 100 km away. An official from Turkey’s disaster management agency said it was a new earthquake, not an aftershock, though its effects were not immediately clear. Hundreds of aftershocks were expected after the two temblors.

Thousands of buildings were reported collapsed in a wide area extending from Syria’s cities of Aleppo and Hama to Turkey’s Diyarbakir, more than 330 km to the northeast. A hospital collapsed in the Mediterranean coastal city of Iskenderun, but casualties were not immediately known, Turkey’s Vice-President Fuat Oktay said.

The quake also damaged a historic castle perched atop a hill in the centre of the provincial capital of Gaziantep, about 33 km from the epicentre.

Offers of help — from search-and-rescue teams to medical supplies and money — poured in from dozens of countries, as well as the European Union and NATO. — AP

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