3,700 people died in Turkey earthquake… Death toll likely to increase due to aftershocks

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The death toll from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck southern Turkey and northwestern Syria on the 6th (local time) is snowballing, surpassing 3,700. The scale of damage is expected to increase further due to continued aftershocks and poor local conditions.

On this day, a strong earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 occurred at 4:17 a.m. local time (10:17 a.m. Korean time) in the southeastern Gaziantep and south-central Kahramanmaras regions of Turkiye, adjacent to the Syrian border. After that, at 1:24 pm local time, a 7.5 magnitude aftershock occurred 59 km north-northeast of Turkiye Kahramanmaras. The depth of the epicenter is 10 km.

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◇Turkeye and Syria death toll exceeds 3,500… difficulty in rescue work

According to the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD), at least 2,316 people have died in Turkey since the first visit at 4:17 am, and Reuters and AFP reported that at least 1,440 people have died in Syria. Injuries are also increasing exponentially. More than 12,000 people were injured in Turkiye and 3,400 in Syria. A total of 5,606 buildings have collapsed so far.

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Rescuers dug with their bare hands to find survivors, and residents had to face the morning without sleep.

“I thought this was the end,” Melissa Salman, 23, from Karamanmaras, southeastern Turkey, told AFP.

Omer el-Kuneid, 20, from Syria, also told AFP, “My family is under the rubble,” and “My friends have been calling until the morning, but now they are not answering the phone.”

Raed Ahmed, head of the Syrian National Seismological Center, called it “the largest earthquake in the center’s history.”

The local situation is truly apocalyptic. “The wall collapsed on us, but we got out with our son,” said survivor Osama Abdel Hamid. did.

Rescue work is also difficult because of the cold. Currently, the highest midday temperature around the epicenter is 3-4 degrees. The temperature is expected to drop further in the future and is expected to hover below freezing until the morning of the 7th.

Roads are covered with ice and snow, and the earthquake has shut down three major airports nearby, making it difficult to deliver relief supplies.

◇The epicenter is shallow and the building is aging due to the civil war in Syria… It’s early in the morning, so it’s hard to evacuate

The causes that increased the damage of this earthquake are that the depth to the epicenter is shallow at 18 km, that energy has been accumulated since no major earthquake has occurred in the area for nearly 200 years, and that most of the buildings are aging due to the Syrian civil war that has continued for more than 10 years. It is pointed out that it occurred at dawn, making it difficult to evacuate.

Turkiye is one of the most seismically active regions in the world. It is located at the junction of the Anatolian plate, the Eurasian plate, the Arabian plate, and the African plate. The earthquake was caused by the Arabian plate moving north and colliding with the Anatolian plate.

In particular, the region where this earthquake occurred is located on the East Anatolia Fault, which is a typical strike-slip fault. A strike fault is a fault in which the upper and lower halves of the fault move horizontally along the fault plane, and even if an earthquake of the same magnitude occurs, the damage can be much greater if the fault is a reverse fault or a positive fault in which the fault moves vertically.

This earthquake is expected to cause human casualties on a scale similar to that of the 2015 Nepal earthquake, which had a similar size and epicenter depth. At that time, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 and a depth of 11 km occurred in Nepal, killing about 9,000 people.

The fact that the earthquake-resistant design was not appropriate was also pointed out as a background for the large-scale loss of life. “Unfortunately, seismic infrastructure is patchy in southern Turkey and Syria,” volcanologist Carmen Solana of the University of Portsmouth in the UK told the BBC.

Refugees fleeing the civil war are staying in northern Syria, which borders Turkey. The buildings are old and it is a vulnerable area in the event of an earthquake.

As aftershocks continue, there is a risk that the scale of human casualties will increase. Catherine Smallwood, World Health Organization (WHO) European emergency officer, said: “We often see an eight-fold increase in the number of deaths from the initial figure due to the possibility of further collapse. ” he told AFP.

◇ Waves of support from the international community continue… Turkey declares 7 days of national mourning

Currently, countries around the world have pledged support for this earthquake. President Joe Biden directed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the federal government to seek a response to help those most affected by the earthquake.

The European Union (EU), the United Kingdom, and warring Ukraine and Russia also expressed their intention to support. The Netherlands and Romania have already dispatched support teams, and Russia said 300 soldiers deployed in Syria are helping to clear the rubble.

Israel, which is in de facto war with Greece and Syria over the Aegean Sea with Turkey, also contributed to aid.

Meanwhile, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Türkiye declared a seven-day period of national mourning to honor the earthquake victims.

“We declare a 7-day period of national mourning,” Erdogan said on Twitter.

Source: Donga

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