More buildings collapse in Syria after magnitude 6.4-earthquake hit Hatay province in Turkey

The quake that was also felt in Jordan, Israel and Egypt was followed by a second magnitude 5.8 tremor

By AP

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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, 10:39 PM

There are new reports of collapsed buildings in Syria after another powerful earthquake struck Turkey’s Hatay province which was devastated by a massive tremor two week ago.

Turkey’s disaster management agency, AFAD, said the magnitude 6.4-earthquake was centred around the town of Defne, in Hatay province. It was followed by a second, magnitude 5.8 tremor.


NTV television said the quake caused some damaged buildings to collapse, but there were no immediate reports of any casualties. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said the quake was felt in Syria, Jordan, Israel and Egypt.

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake which struck Feb. 6 has killed nearly 45,000 people in Turkey and Syria. Turkish authorities have recorded more than 6,000 aftershocks since.


Building damaged

Some media outlets in Syria’s Idlib and Aleppo regions that were badly affected by the new, 6.4 magnitude earthquake are reporting that some buildings have collapsed and that electricity and internet services have been interrupted in parts of the region.

The media outlets said many people fled their homes and are gathering in open areas.

Meanwhile, the Syrian opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense also known as White Helmets issued an alert urging residents in the country’s rebel-held northwest to follow guidelines released earlier regarding earthquakes and how to evacuate buildings.

Death toll approaches 45,000

The Turkish disaster management agency, AFAD, has raised the number of confirmed fatalities from the earthquake in Turkey to 41,156. That increases the overall death toll in both Turkey and Syria to 44,844.

Search and rescue operations for survivors have been called off in most of the quake zone, but AFAD chief Yunus Sezer told reporters that search teams were pressing ahead with their efforts in more than a dozen collapsed buildings — most of them in the hardest-hit province of Hatay.

There were no signs of anyone being alive under the rubble since three members of one family — a mother, father and 12-year-old boy — were extracted from a collapsed building in Hatay on Saturday. The boy later died.

Erdogan says reconstruction to start in March

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who faces elections in May or June, says his country will start building tens of thousands of new homes 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.

“We want to avoid disasters ... by shifting our settlements away from the lowlands to the (more solid) mountains as much as possible,” Erdogan said in a televized address during a visit to hard-hit Hatay province.

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

Erdogan said around 1.6 million people are currently being housed in temporary shelters.

Nato sends container homes

NATO says a ship carrying 600 temporary container homes has left Italy and is expected to arrive in Turkey next week.

The military alliance has pledged to send more than 1,000 containers that will serve as temporary shelters for at least 4,000 people left homeless by the earthquake.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, who visited the quake-devastated region last week, called it the worst disaster in the alliance’s history.

Authorities say more than 110,000 buildings across 11 quake-hit Turkish provinces were either destroyed or so severely damaged that they need to be torn down.

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