A 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck the border region between Turkey and Syria, killing at least three people, two weeks after the region was devastated by earthquakes that killed more than 47,000 people in the two countries.
Monday’s quake hit Defne in Hatay province at 8:04 p.m. (1704 GMT) and was strongly felt in the provincial capital Antakya as well as Adana province, 200 kilometers (300 miles) to the north. Turkey’s disaster management agency said a 5.8-magnitude quake followed three minutes later.
Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said five people were killed and more than 200 wounded. He said rescue workers were trying to find people trapped under the rubble.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said the quake was felt in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Egypt.
Syria’s official news agency, SANA, reported that six people were injured in Aleppo from falling debris, while the mayor of Hatay said a number of buildings collapsed, trapping people inside.
The disaster management agency urged people in the eastern Mediterranean province of Hatay to stay away from the coast, warning that quakes could cause sea levels to rise by as much as 50 centimeters (20 inches).
Watch the moment another 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit southern Turkey’s Hatay province on Monday, spreading panic in a region already devastated by powerful earthquakes earlier this month ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/41FftXoU1W
– Al Jazeera English (AJEnglish) February 20, 2023
Two bodies were recovered from the building
Al Jazeera’s Asad Baig, from Antakya, Turkey, said two bodies were recovered from a collapsed building while a third man was taken out alive by rescuers.
“We understand that four men entered the building to retrieve some belongings. The authorities have warned against going into the buildings but no one really expects another earthquake of the magnitude we saw.”
Witnesses said Turkish rescue teams are running after the recent earthquakes to check if people need help.
Mona Al-Omar said she was in a tent in a park in central Antakya when the earthquakes hit on Monday.
“I thought the ground would open up under my feet,” she said, sobbing as she held her seven-year-old son. “Will there be another aftershock?”
On February 6, earthquakes measuring 7.8 and 7.6 struck southeastern Turkey and neighboring Syria, killing more than 47,000 people and displacing a million people. The economic cost of the disaster is expected to run into tens of billions of dollars.
Mehmet Kokum, an associate professor of geology in Elazig, Turkey, said there have been more than 5,000 aftershocks since the February 6 earthquake.
“It’s totally expected,” Kokum told Al Jazeera. “We know from our experience that aftershocks will last from months to years. But they will decrease day by day.”
Hatay Mayor Lutvu Savas said a number of buildings collapsed on Monday. Savaş said he believed those trapped had either returned to their homes or were trying to move furniture from their damaged homes.
In the Turkish city of Adana, Alejandro Malaver said people fled their homes into the streets, carrying blankets into their cars, where many planned to sleep.
Syria struck again
Abdulkafi al-Hamdo, an opposition activist in northern Syria, said the survivors of the February 6 earthquake were horrified by the recent earthquakes.
“This earthquake, although it was a little shorter and weaker, caused more terror to people,” he told Al Jazeera.
“Because of the previous experience, people panicked and shocked, so everyone rushed outside. Some people had accidents in speeding, and some even jumped from their balconies to escape the earthquake. People here are not safe.”
Media in Syria’s Idlib and Aleppo governorates reported that some buildings collapsed and electricity and internet services were disrupted in parts of the region, which was badly damaged by earthquakes two weeks ago. Many people fled their homes and gathered in open areas.
The Syrian American Medical Society, which runs hospitals in northern Syria, said it had treated a number of patients, including many who had heart attacks due to fright.
The Syrian Civil Defense, a volunteer emergency response group in opposition-held areas also known as the White Helmets, has urged residents of northwest Syria to follow guidelines on how to respond to earthquakes and evacuate buildings.
The death toll from earthquakes two weeks ago rose Monday to 41,156 in Turkey, the disaster management agency said, and is expected to rise further. About 6,000 people have been killed in Syria.
An estimated 385,000 apartments were destroyed or severely damaged, and many people are still missing.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that construction of about 200,000 apartments in 11 quake-hit provinces will start next month.
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