Earthquakes Devastate Turkey and Syria

Earthquakes Devastate Turkey and Syria

( – The US Geological Survey (USGS) reported that an earthquake struck about 4 miles outside Nurdağı, Turkey, in the country’s south-central region near its border with Syria at about 4:15 a.m. on February 6. The initial quake measured 7.8 on the Moment Magnitude Scale, and a magnitude 6.7 aftershock (M6.7) followed it roughly 11 minutes later. As of 10:30 p.m., about 30 aftershocks rated at M4.5 and above hit the region along the East Anatolian fault line devastating both countries.

The USGS operates multiple systems for estimating likely damage from earthquakes. For instance, an automatic system called PAGER (Prompt Assessment of Global Earthquakes for Response) automatically produces a report within minutes of any event measuring M5.5 and above.

PAGER rated the estimated economic losses at level red, indicating the earthquake could reduce Turkey’s Gross Domestic Product by as much as 6%. The system initially rated the estimated fatalities at level orange but quickly raised it to red, noting that “high casualties and extensive damage are probable.”

The report also noted recent seismic events in the region caused severe secondary hazards like landslides and liquefaction, a process that “causes soil to behave more like a liquid than a solid.” Liquefaction can cause significant structural damage to buildings, roadways, pipes, and storage tanks.

The Associated Press reported thousands of buildings have collapsed in Turkey and Syria, including medical facilities and other structures providing essential services. Dozens of countries across the region, along with NATO and the European Union, have offered to send search-and-rescue teams, medical supplies, machinery, and money.

President Joe Biden issued a brief statement confirming his administration was working closely with its counterparts in the region to coordinate “any and all needed assistance,” and he called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to offer his administration’s condolences and support.

Live reporting by The Guardian indicated as of February 8, the death toll from the earthquakes exceeded 11,000 and is expected to increase. The USGS reported only three earthquakes rated at M6 and above have been registered in the region since 1970. The most recent one, an M6.8 quake, struck Elazığ, a city in Turkey’s Anatolia region, on January 24, 2020, killing 41 and injuring hundreds.

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