Dead and more than 300 injured after two new earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

The earthquakes had magnitudes of 6.4 and 5.8. The February 6 earthquake killed 44,000 people in the region.

By Le Figaro with AFP

Published 2/20/2023 at 6:23 PM, updated 2/20/2023 at 9:48 PM

Two strong earthquakes (6.4 and 5.8) struck again on Monday evening, February 20th, northern Syria and the Turkish province of Hatay (south), which were hardest hit by the February 6th earthquake, in which in more than 45,000 people lost their lives in both countries.

At least three people have been killed and 213 injured in Turkey, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said in the evening. Vice President Fuat Oktay had previously reported eight injured by falling buildings that were already damaged. In Syria, 47 people were injured in Aleppo and panicked when they tried to escape, the Sana agency reported. The head of the group of Syrian rescuers from the White Helmets spoke to him about 125 injuries in the north of the country.

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” ALSO READ – “It’s terrible, the city of Antakya no longer exists”: After the earthquake, Turkey buries its dead in chaos

The first earthquake, with a magnitude of 6.4 and with epicenter Defne, a district near Antakya, occurred at 20:04 (18:04 in France) and was confirmed by AFP teams in Antakya and Adana, 200 km further north, felt very strongly. Three minutes later, a new 5.8 magnitude earthquake followed in Samandag, a coastal town further south. According to the Turkish aid organization Afad, there were at least two more earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.2 in the evening. “Aftershocks along the Anatolian Fault” and no new “independent earthquakes,” specified Dr. Övgün Ahmet Ercan, engineer specializing in geophysics.

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The Iskenderum Port Public Hospital and the Mustafa Kemal University Hospital in Antakya were evacuated as a precaution, the DHA news agency reported, and intensive care patients were transferred to a field hospital. The coordination center of the Afad aid was also evacuated. Before the lifting, a warning was issued about the risk of sinking on the Turkish coast.

SEE ALSO – “Death comes when you least expect it”: Video of a Turkish teenager who thought he would die in the earthquake moves the country

“The Earth Opened Up”

In a square in central Antakya, Ali Mazloum, an 18-year-old Syrian, testified to AFP about the intensity of this earthquake. “We were with Afad, who is looking for the bodies of our relatives, when the earthquake surprised us. You don’t know what to do,” he said. “We grabbed each other and right in front of us the walls started to collapse. It felt like the earth was opening up to swallow us.”

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Ali, who has lived in Antakya for 12 years, is still searching for the bodies of his sister and her family, as well as those of his brother-in-law and family, who have disappeared since the February 6 earthquake. “The road moved like waves, the cars were thrown from left to right. The building moved back and forth. It cut our legs,” Mehmet Irmak, 34, a clerk at a notary’s office, told AFP. “Hatay isn’t a safe place now… I’ll wait for dawn, but I don’t know what I’ll do,” adds the man, who slept in his car for two weeks after the first earthquake. .

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday visited Hatay province, one of only two provinces with Kahramanmaras hit by the earthquake two weeks ago, where research and excavations are continuing. They were arrested everywhere else on Sunday and the hope of finding survivors is almost nil. More than 118,000 buildings were destroyed or badly damaged, according to Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The head of state had previously spoken in Ankara for more than an hour with US diplomatic chief Antony Blinken, who thus ended a two-day visit to Turkey. The latter showed the United States’ support for the stricken country and promised to continue to provide aid, but also wanted to give reassurance about the status of the sometimes tense bilateral relations.