The distraught and distressed residents of Turkey and Syria are facing new shocks and obstacles in the aftermath of Monday’s 6.3-magnitude earthquake that shook the same quake-ravaged region two weeks ago that killed nearly 45,000 people and destroyed thousands of buildings.
Turkey’s disaster management agency said six people were killed on Monday and about 300 wounded, 18 of them critically. In Syria, a woman and a girl were killed in the governorates of Hama and Tartous, according to pro-government media, and there were reports of people jumping from buildings to flee.
Monday’s earthquake destroyed buildings that had survived previous quakes, sending a new wave of people into the frigid streets of Aleppo and Latakia.
“But the greatest damage that is currently being caused by all the other aftershocks is not visible,” Jani Savolainen, a spokeswoman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Damascus, told USA TODAY. “The earthquake brought back memories of the war, as well as creating new traumas with the loss of family members, homes and property now due to the earthquake.”
Turkey struck by a new earthquake: Two weeks ago, tremors killed more than 41,000
Authorities recorded more than 6,000 aftershocks between quakes two weeks ago and Monday’s quake.
The Syrian American Medical Society said it has treated a number of patients — including a 7-year-old child — who suffered from heart attacks caused by fear in the aftermath of the recent earthquakes.
Authorities warned earthquake victims not to go to the rubble of their homes, but people returned to retrieve their remaining belongings. Previous earthquakes have displaced more than a million people in Turkey alone.
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Recent earthquakes trap people in homes in Turkey
The quake occurred on Monday at 8:04 pm with its epicenter in the town of Defne in Turkey’s Hatay province. The city of Hatay, which borders Syria and the Mediterranean Sea, was badly hit by the earthquakes that occurred on February 6.
Monday’s quake was followed by a second quake with a magnitude of 5.8 and dozens of aftershocks. The earthquakes also shook parts of Jordan, Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon and Egypt.
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said that inspections are underway in Hatay for damage. He urged residents to stay away from damaged buildings and follow rescue teams’ instructions carefully.
Hatay Mayor Loto Savas said a number of buildings collapsed in the wake of recent earthquakes, trapping people inside. Savaş said he believed those trapped were people who had returned to their homes or were trying to move furniture from their damaged homes. Previous earthquakes have killed more than 21,000 people in his province, he said, adding that 80% of homes and businesses need to be rebuilt or fortified.
In Adana, Alejandro Malaver said people left their homes on the streets, carrying blankets in their cars. Everyone was afraid, Malaver said, and “nobody wanted to go home.”
Building collapse in Syria
In rebel-held northwest Syria, nearly 200 people have been injured, most with broken bones and bruises, according to the local civil defense organization the White Helmets. Several dilapidated buildings have collapsed in Syria, but apparently there have been no cases of people trapped under the rubble, the White Helmets said.
“Our teams are working tirelessly to remove rubble and debris, secure damaged buildings, open roads and recover civilian property,” the White Helmets wrote on Twitter. “We remain dedicated to helping those affected by this disaster get back on their feet.”
New concerns for already traumatized survivors
In addition to causing more physical damage, the new earthquake created new fears for the survivors. Life since the Feb. 6 earthquakes has been difficult, with survivors surrounded by bodies, sub-zero temperatures and a lack of running water and adequate hygiene, according to aid groups. But for many, especially Syrians, the earthquakes are the latest trigger of trauma caused by more than a decade of war.
“We’ve already heard reports of blunt trauma in children – it’s likely to get worse after last night. We’ve heard reports of people who were so scared they were jumping off balconies to escape,” Catherine Achilles, Save the Children Syria spokeswoman said in a statement. buildings.”
A different rescue group, the Federation of Medicare and Relief Organizations of the United States, reported on Monday that at least eight people were injured while jumping from buildings in the Salqin district of northwestern Syria.
The fact that people were jumping from buildings in fear highlights how traumatized the people are, especially the Syrian children who have known nothing but conflict and crisis their whole lives.
“For many children in Syria, being able to be a child and act like a child is a privilege,” said Savolinen, from Damascus. “They have to take on the responsibilities of looking after their families, their own safety, and even providing income for their parents.” Spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. “All of this burden on mental health comes to a head with the daily struggle of not having enough food, fuel, warmth or home.”
People have been traumatized by the 12 years of conflict, Savolainen told USA TODAY via text. “Every aftershock forces people to bring back those memories.”
More earthquakes are expected
More aftershocks are likely — models show the area is likely to receive magnitude 5 earthquakes for at least a year, said William “Bill” Barnhart, associate coordinator of the USGS program for earthquake hazards in Colorado.
Barnhart said Monday’s quake, had it occurred as a standalone event, likely would have caused between 100-1,000 deaths and $1 billion in damage.
“It was a big earthquake on its own,” he said. “But now you overlap that on top of infrastructure that was already vulnerable before the earthquakes, and now it’s been compromised even more by many, many powerful aftershocks. All of that stuff starts to build up.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
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