Another strong quake hits near Turkey-Syria border, rattling devastated area

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck southern Turkey at about 8 p.m. local time Monday, near its shared border with northern Syria. The quake, centered in Turkey’s Hatay province, came two weeks after the same region was devastated by a series of earthquakes and aftershocks that killed more than 46,000 people and reduced towns and city blocks to rubble. 

Monday’s earthquake, which occurred around noon ET, was originally reported as a magnitude 6.4 with a depth of 10 kilometers by the United States Geological Survey, which has since revised the measurement to 6.3.

AFAD, the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority in Turkey, confirmed in one of several messages shared on Twitter that the latest earthquake occurred in Hatay. Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said at a news conference that at least 213 people were wounded and three people had died in Turkey as a result of the tremor. In Syria, authorities had recorded at least 120 injuries.

As a precaution, the agency advised in the quake’s immediate aftermath that people avoid the area’s coastline, noting that sea levels could rise as much as 50 cm, or just under 20 inches, as a result of the disaster. AFAD removed the warning about an hour later, saying in a separate social media update that potential changes in water levels no longer posed serious threats. It cited input from the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute, which is located outside of Istanbul and had been monitoring the repercussions of the tremor.

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The epicenter of the 6.3-magnitude quake was in the Hatay province’s Defne district, according to AFAD, where a magnitude 7.8 quake also originated earlier this month. The disastrous tremor on Feb. 6 shook the region, displacing roughly 1 million people in Turkey and Syria and leaving at least 46,000 dead, with many caught beneath the ruins as estimates suggested more than 3,400 buildings had collapsed. Minutes after the initial aftershock hit Hatay on Monday, the Turkish emergency management agency recorded another, slightly smaller tremor, which it measured at a magnitude 5.8. Numerous smaller quakes were recorded across the surrounding region, which is not unusual.

Turkey’s Hatay province sits along the Mediterranean coast and shares southern and eastern borders with Syria. In Aleppo, one of Syria’s most populous metropolitan areas, second only to the capital, Damascus, local news organizations reported that at least 70 people were hospitalized in the hours following the latest earthquake. 

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said in one of several announcements after Monday’s earthquake hit that authorities would continue to investigate the natural disaster and its consequences. Oktay urged people to follow standard safety protocols and avoid damaged buildings in the region. Turkey’s state news agency, Andalou, reported that the quake was felt in Syria, Jordan, Israel and Egypt. 

Meanwhile, Syria’s state news agency, SANA, reported that six people were injured in Aleppo as a result of falling debris, according to the Associated Press. The mayor of Hatay said multiple buildings had collapsed, trapping people inside, the AP reported.

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