New Earthquake Causes Further Devastation In Turkey, Syria

(AP) — A new 6.4 magnitude earthquake on Monday struck parts of Turkey and Syria that were laid waste two weeks ago by a massive quake that killed around 45,000 people.

Officials said more buildings collapsed, trapping occupants, and several people were injured in both countries, but there were no immediate reports of fatalities.

Monday’s earthquake was centered in the town of Defne, in Turkey’s Hatay province, one the worst-hit regions in the magnitude 7.8 quake that hit on February 6. It was felt in Syria, Jordan, Israel and as far away as Egypt, and was followed by a second, magnitude 5.8 temblor.

A number of buildings collapsed in the new quake, trapping people inside, Hatay’s mayor Lutfu Savas said. He told NTV television that those trapped may be people who had either returned to homes or were trying move furniture from damaged homes.

There were no immediate reports of any fatalities. Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said at least eight people were hospitalised in Turkey. Syria’s state news agency, SANA, reported that six people were injured in Aleppo from falling debris.

The February 6 quake has killed nearly 45,000 people in both countries — the vast majority of them in Turkey. Turkish authorities have recorded more than 6,000 aftershocks since.

HaberTurk journalists reporting from Hatay said they were jolted violently by Monday’s quake and held onto to each other to avoid falling.

In the Turkish city of Adana, eyewitness Alejandro Malaver said people left homes for the streets, carrying blankets into their cars. Malaver said everyone is really scared and that “no one wants to get back into their houses.”

The Syrian opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense, also known as White Helmets, reported that several people were injured in Syria’s rebel-held northwest after they jumped from buildings or when they were struck by falling debris in the town of Jinderis, one of the towns worst affected by the February 6 earthquake.

The White Helmets added that several damaged and abandoned buildings collapsed in Syria’s northwest without injuring anyone.

The Syrian American Medical Society, which runs hospitals in northern Syria, said it had treated a number of patients — including a 7-year-old boy — who suffered heart attacks brought on by fear following the new quake.

Oktay said inspections for damage were underway in Hatay, and urged citizens to stay away from damaged buildings and to carefully follow rescue teams’ directions. Authorities issued a warning to citizens to stay away from the coastline over the possibility of rising sea levels, but the warning was lifted a couple of hours later.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Hatay earlier on Monday, and said his government would begin constructing close to 200,000 new homes in the quake-devastated region as early as next month.

On Monday, AFAD, raised the number of confirmed fatalities from the earthquake in Turkey to 41,156. That increases the overall death toll in both Turkey and Syria to 44,844.