Death toll from latest earthquakes in Turkey reaches eight

Casualties relatively low since few remain in region devastated by twin earthquakes two weeks ago

The toll from two earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria on Monday – two weeks after powerful quakes killed more than 47,000 people – has risen to eight, with up to 300 recovering from injuries and up to a dozen buildings toppling on both sides of the border.

The widespread anxiety and panic sparked by the latest tremors has rattled a region that is still coming to terms with the devastation caused earlier this month.

The seismic activity was felt in Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon, where schools and public services were closed on Tuesday, partly to calm people’s nerves.

Millions of people who fled ruined cities across southern Turkey and northern Syria, which were both shaken violently by the two tremors on Monday evening, now fear for their lives in temporary shelters.

The first 6.3-magnitude quake struck near the Turkish city of Antakya, which was all but destroyed by the 6 February quake and is largely uninhabitable. The second hit near the Mediterranean coast, reverberating deep into the Levant and underscoring the geological impact of one of the century’s biggest earthquakes.

Most of the injuries were caused by people jumping from structures, or falling as they fled over rubble and walls. With much of the earthquake zone already in ruins, and few people remaining in hardest-hit areas, casualty figures were relatively low.

In southern Turkey’s disaster zone, two weeks of quakes and aftershocks have scythed a haphazard path, destroying some communities while seemingly sparing others.

Two weeks on, the seismology of the massive quake’s spread is now mostly understood, but how some population centres near the epicentres avoided the worst damage is an increasing focus of regulators and politicians who face a groundswell of anger from some survivors who claim the disaster stemmed as much from human failings as it did from nature.

Two main hubs in southern Turkey – Antakya and Gaziantep – have been cited as cases in point, with the near annihilation of the former contrasted by locals to the nearly intact state of the latter.

In the majority Kurdish city of Adıyaman, large rows of flats collapsed like houses of cards, leaving much of the urban landscape in piled heaps. The city is uninhabitable, along with nearby Antakya and Kahramanmaraş.

In advance of an election that could be held as early as May, the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, faces growing pressure to explain how so many buildings so easily collapsed, entombing tens of thousands of people who had been sleeping when the first quake struck at 4.17am.

In the aftermath, a spotlight has been cast on the widespread provision of homes that did not meet earthquake standards, with increasing calls for construction standards to be enhanced in Turkey and developing countries around the world.

There are fresh calls for authorities to guarantee safe housing as a human right. “Safe housing is in principle already a human right enshrined in various UN treaties,” said Sara Pantuliano, the chief executive of the global affairs thinktank ODI. “But the evidence of the recent catastrophic earthquakes in Turkey and Syria shows only too well that the principle is not the practice. As we’ve seen, unsafe housing means a natural hazard like an earthquake becomes a large-scale tragedy, when this could have been at least partially averted.”


Martin Chulov Middle East correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Turkey and Syria earthquake death toll passes 15,000 as Erdoğan defends response
Turkish president rejects growing criticism as rescuers continue to pull survivors from freezing rubble

Jon Henley

08, Feb, 2023 @8:37 PM

Article image
Baby girl among the few found alive as Turkey quake rescuers race against time
Others also rescued against the odds almost a week after two earthquakes flattened parts of Turkey and Syria

Jon Henley

12, Feb, 2023 @5:10 PM

Article image
Turkey hit by two more powerful earthquakes two weeks after disaster
Three killed and 213 injured, government says, after quakes of 6.4 and 5.8 magnitude shake southern province of Hatay

Ruth Michaelson in Istanbul

21, Feb, 2023 @7:12 AM

Article image
Turkey and Syria earthquake death toll passes 21,000 as first aid convoy enters north-west Syria
Turkey says it is working to open two more border crossings; girl and father pulled alive from rubble in Antakya

Peter Beaumont

10, Feb, 2023 @12:08 AM

Article image
Seven more people rescued in Turkey eight days after earthquake
The survivors, including two teenagers, saved as rescue teams look to next phase of aid

Jon Henley and Ruth Michaelson in Antakya

14, Feb, 2023 @5:33 PM

Article image
Turkey and Syria earthquake death toll passes 7,800 as rescue efforts falter
Aftershocks and freezing weather hamper efforts of rescue teams searching for survivors after 7.8-magnitude quake

Ruth Michaelson in Kayseri, Deniz Barış Narlı in Ankara and Sam Jones

07, Feb, 2023 @10:00 PM

Article image
Turkey arrests building contractors as earthquake death toll mounts
Warnings current toll of of 33,000 from earthquake that struck parts of Turkey and Syria could double

Jon Henley

12, Feb, 2023 @4:17 PM

Article image
Turkey-Syria earthquake death toll likely to ‘more than double’, UN says
At least 24,596 people have been confirmed dead after the 7.8-magnitude quake struck on Monday

Jane Clinton and agency

11, Feb, 2023 @2:14 PM

Article image
A visual guide to the earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria
Video and maps of the impact of the huge earthquake and aftershocks that have killed thousands

Oliver Holmes, Lucy Swan and Maheen Sadiq

06, Feb, 2023 @4:10 PM

Article image
‘Catastrophic’ earthquake in Turkey and Syria kills at least 4,300 people
Dozens of countries offer help as rescue workers and residents frantically search for survivors after devastating 7.8-magnitude tremor

Ruth Michaelson in Istanbul, Deniz Barış Narlı, Oliver Holmes, and Patrick Wintour

06, Feb, 2023 @7:51 PM