3 killed, over 200 hurt as new twin quakes strike Turkey's Hatay province

The tremors set off panic and damaged buildings further in Turkey's Antakya city

By Agencies

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People react after an earthquake in Antakya in Hatay province, Turkey, February 20, 2023. Photo: Reuters
People react after an earthquake in Antakya in Hatay province, Turkey, February 20, 2023. Photo: Reuters

Published: Mon 20 Feb 2023, 9:33 PM

Last updated: Tue 21 Feb 2023, 9:00 AM

Two earthquakes jolted Turkey on Monday, just two weeks after major quakes hit the region, the country’s disaster management agency said.

A magnitude 6.4 quake hit around 8.04pm local time and a magnitude 5.8 one took place three minutes later.

The quakes killed three people and injured more than 200 in parts of Turkey that were laid waste two weeks ago by a massive quake that killed tens of thousands. Officials said more buildings collapsed, trapping occupants, and several people were injured in both Turkey and Syria.

Monday's earthquakes were centred in the town of Defne, in Turkey's Hatay province, one the worst-hit regions in the magnitude 7.8 quake that hit on February 6. It was felt in Syria, Jordan, Cyprus, Israel and as far away as Egypt, and was followed by a second, magnitude 5.8 temblor.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said three people were killed and 213 injured. Search and rescue efforts were underway in three collapsed buildings where a total of five people were believed trapped.

A number of buildings collapsed in the new quake, trapping people inside, Hatay's mayor Lutfu Savas said. He told NTV television that these may be people who had returned to homes or were trying move their furniture out of damaged buildings.

Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay said at least eight people were hospitalised in Turkey. Syria's state news agency, SANA, reported that six people were injured in Aleppo from falling debris.

In Hatay, police search teams rescued one person who was trapped inside a three-story building and were trying to reach three others inside, HaberTurk television reported.

The February 6 quake killed nearly 45,000 people in both countries — the vast majority of them in Turkey, where more than a million and a half people are in temporary shelters. Turkish authorities have recorded more than 6,000 aftershocks since.

HaberTurk journalists reporting from Hatay said they were jolted violently by Monday's quake and held onto to each other to avoid falling.

In the Turkish city of Adana, eyewitness Alejandro Malaver said people left homes for the streets, carrying blankets into their cars. Malaver said everyone is really scared and that “no one wants to get back into their houses”.

The Syrian opposition’s Syrian Civil Defence, also known as White Helmets, reported that several people were injured in Syria’s rebel-held northwest after they jumped from buildings or when they were struck by falling debris in the town of Jinderis, one of the towns worst affected by the February 6 earthquake.

The White Helmets said several damaged and abandoned buildings collapsed in Syria’s northwest without injuring anyone.

In the Syrian city of Idlib, frightened residents were preparing to sleep in parks and other public places, while fuel lines formed at gas stations as people attempted to get as far as possible from any buildings that might collapse.

The Syrian American Medical Society, which runs hospitals in northern Syria, said it had treated a number of patients — including a 7-year-old boy — who suffered heart attacks brought on by fear following the new quake.

Oktay said inspections for damage were underway in Hatay, and urged citizens to stay away from damaged buildings and to carefully follow rescue teams' directions.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Hatay earlier on Monday, and said his government would begin constructing close to 200,000 new homes in the quake-devastated region as early as next month.

Erdogan said the new buildings will be no taller than three or four stories, built on firmer ground and to higher standards and in consultation with “geophysics, geotechnical, geology and seismology professors” and other experts.

The Turkish leader said destroyed cultural monuments would be rebuilt in accordance with their “historic and cultural texture”.


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