The southern Turkish province of Hatay has experienced a violent 6.4 magnitude earthquake, scaring residents who remain in the area that was ravaged by strong twin earthquakes two weeks ago.
Less powerful than the initial 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude earthquakes that tore a path of destruction through southern Turkey and northern Syria on 6 February, the quake threatened further destruction in a region where many people had already fled their destroyed homes for safety in other towns and villages outside of the earthquake zone.
The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) reported that it only penetrated two kilometers (1.2 miles) below the surface, possibly amplifying its damage below ground. Its epicenter was close to the southern Turkish city of Antakya, and it was felt in Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt.
The 6.4 magnitude epicentre, according to Turkey’s disaster management agency AFAD, was in the Defne district of Hatay, a region on the southernmost tip of the regional hub Antakya that stretches towards the town of Samanda. These areas had previously complained about the government’s lackluster response to their suffering following the earthquakes two weeks prior.
Ata Koşar in the Hatay town of Ekinci lost his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew when their nearby luxury apartment building collapsed during the first earthquake. “I was using our heater to try and stay warm, showing what to do in case another earthquake happened,” he recalled. “It was the first day we’d decided to stay in our house as it’s only one floor.”
“Another earthquake occurred while I was still lying on the ground. We heard what seemed to be additional buildings falling once again, and our home was suffering more damage,” he remarked somberly.
Rescue crews, according to witnesses, were making sure no one was hurt.
Antakya resident Muna al-Omar claimed to have been in a tent in a park when the earthquake struck. She sobbed as she clutched her seven-year-old kid in her arms and stated, “I felt the ground was going to break up beneath my feet.
“Will there be a second aftershock?” That was her.
Some who stayed in Hatay for two weeks after the first quakes indicated that they did so out of fear of completely losing their houses or a feeling that they had nowhere else to go despite there being no electricity or running water in the area.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority AFAD reported on Monday that the death toll from the quakes two weeks ago had increased to 41,156, and that it was likely to rise further given that 385,000 apartments were either completely destroyed or severely damaged, and that many people were still unaccounted for.
According to estimates, at least 47,000 people have perished in Turkey and Syria, and the death toll is certain to go further. The heaviest damage is concentrated along a fault line that extends from the province of Hatay deep into Turkey’s southeast.
The building of roughly 200,000 dwellings in 11 earthquake-stricken counties of Turkey will start next month, according to Recep Tayyip Erdoan, the president of Turkey.
When rescue efforts and aftershocks came to an end and attention shifted to the immediate need for shelter and restoration work, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had earlier said that Washington will continue to assist “for as long as it takes” while on a visit to Turkey.
A day before the second earthquake, Blinken visited the devastated Hatay area with his Turkish colleague Mevlüt avuşolu and committed an extra £83 million in relief to Turkey and Syria on top of the £71 million that President Joseph Biden had already promised.
In an attempt to express what he had seen, Blinken said, “It’s hard to put into words.” “Numerous damaged or completely destroyed buildings, neighborhoods, and streets.”
According to the UN organization for sexual and reproductive health (UNFPA), there are roughly 356,000 pregnant survivors of the earthquakes who urgently require access to health care.
These include 130,000 women in Syria and 226,000 women in Turkey, with roughly 38,800 of them due to give birth in the next month. Many of them were battling for food and water while living in camps or outside in the bitter cold.
The majority of casualties in Syria, a country already wrecked by more than ten years of civil conflict, have occurred in the northwest, according to the UN, where 4,525 people were murdered. Aid attempts are complicated since militants in the region are at conflict with soldiers loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
The official death toll in Syria is 1,414; however, there are suspicions that the actual number was likely far higher before the second earthquake occurred.