LONDON: The magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Turkey
and Syria on Monday is likely to be one of the deadliest this decade, seismologists said, with a more than 100 km (62 miles) rupture between the Anatolian and Arabian plates.Turkey-Syria earthquake: Follow live updatesHere is what scientists said happened beneath the earth’s surface and what to expect in the aftermath:Where did the earthquake originate?
The epicentre was about 26 km east of the Turkish city of Nurdagi at a depth of about 18 km on the East Anatolian Fault. The quake radiated towards the northeast, bringing devastation to central Turkey and Syria.
7.8 magnitude earthquake rocks Turkey, strong aftershocks also felt
During the 20th century, the East Anatolian Fault yielded little major seismic activity. “If we were going simply by (major) earthquakes that were recorded by seismometers, it would look more or less blank,” said Roger Musson, an honorary research associate at the British Geological Survey.
Only three earthquakes have registered above 6.0 on the Richter Scale since 1970 in the area, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. But in 1822, a 7.0 quake hit the region, killing an estimated 20,000 people.
Powerful earthquake hits Turkey and Syria
<p>Earthquakes hits Syria and turkey</p>
<p>Three deadly earthquakes and over a dozen aftershocks hit Turkey and Syria in a span of 24 hours, leading to thousands of deaths. The strongest quake measured 7.8 on the Richter scale — the most intense earthquake recorded in Turkey in over 80 years.</p>
<p>Buildings collapsed after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that had its epicentre in neighbouring Turkey, state media and a medical source said.</p>
<p>Rescuers rushed to search for survivors under the rubble of collapsed buildings in the pouring winter rain.</p>
<p>AFP correspondents in northern Syria said terrified residents ran out of their homes after the earthquake struck before dawn near the Turkish city of Gaziantep.<br /></p>
<p>The US Geological Survey said the tremor occurred at 4.17am at a depth of 17.9km near the Turkish city of Gaziantep, reports the BBC reported.<br /></p>
<p>Addressing reporters, Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the 10 cities of Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Hatay, Osmaniye, Adiyaman, Malatya, Sanliurfa, Adana, Diyarbakir and Kilis were affected.</p>
<p><b>The fatalities were reported in the regions of Aleppo, Hama, Tartus and Latakia, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency.</b><br /></p>
<p><b>The agency quoted Deputy Minister of Health Ahmad Damiriyeh as saying that emergency plans have been implemented in the affected areas and private hospitals have been ordered to receive all injured cases, reports Xinhua news agency.</b><br /></p>
<p><b>The earthquake had the same magnitude as one that killed about 30,000 people in December 1939 in northeast Turkey, Stephen Hicks, a research fellow in seismology at Imperial College London, wrote on Twitter.</b><br /></p>
<p><b>The Ministry of Transport announced earlier the suspension of train traffic on all railways as a precautionary measure, pending inspection of the bridges and tracks of the railway network.</b><br /></p>
<p><b>Authorities in the two neighbouring nations fear an increase in the death toll as many buildings have collapsed and rescue teams were deployed to search for survivors under huge piles of rubble.</b><br /></p>
<p><b>The initial quake was followed by another one measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale at 4.26 a.m., Xinhua news agency quoted Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), as saying.</b><br /></p>
<p><b>”No official numbers yet … but dozens reported dead and hundreds injured, many trapped under the rubble,” the force, known as the White Helmets, said in a Twitter message.</b><br /></p>
<p><b>Many buildings in the affected areas had already suffered damage in fighting during Syria’s nearly 12-year-long civil war.</b><br /></p>
<p><b>Turkey, a hotbed of seismic activity, sits on the Anatolian Plate, which borders two major faults as it grinds northeast against Eurasia.</b><br /></p>
<p><b>Israel on Monday said it was prepared to aid Turkey after a major earthquake.</b><br /></p>
<p><b>The president of war-torn Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has sent a message of support to Turkey to offer assistance.</b><br /></p>
<p><b>White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan says he has told Turkish officials the United States is ready to provide assistance to help with the earthquake rescue effort. </b><br /></p>
<p><b>Expressing concern and shock over the massive earthquake that hit Turkey, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that India’s “140 crore people are with the victims of the earthquake in Turkey”.</b><br /></p>
How bad was this earthquake?
On average, there are fewer than 20 quakes over 7.0 magnitude in any year, making Monday’s event severe.
Compared with the 6.2 earthquake that hit central Italy in 2016 and killed some 300 people, the Turkey-Syria earthquake released 250 times as much energy, according to Joanna Faure Walker, head of the University College London Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction.
Powerful quakes rock Turkey and Syria, rescue efforts continue
Only two of the deadliest earthquakes from 2013 to 2022 were of the same magnitude as Monday’s quake.
Why was it so severe?
The East Anatolian Fault is a strike-slip fault.
In those, solid rock plates are pushing up against each other across a vertical fault line, building stress until one finally slips in a horizontal motion, releasing a tremendous amount of strain that can trigger an earthquake.
The San Andreas Fault in California is perhaps the world’s most famous strike-slip fault, with scientists warning that a catastrophic quake is long overdue.
The initial rupture for the Turkey-Syria earthquake kicked off at a relatively shallow depth. “The shaking at the ground surface will have been more severe than for a deeper earthquake of the same magnitude at source,” David Rothery, a planetary geoscientist at the Open University in Britain, said.
What kind of aftershocks can be expected?
Eleven minutes after the initial quake, the region was hit by a 6.7-magnitude aftershock. A 7.5-magnitude quake came hours later, followed by another 6.0 spasm in the afternoon.
Third massive earthquake of 6.0 magnitude hit Turkey
“What we are seeing now is the activity is spreading to neighbouring faults,” said Musson. “We expect seismicity to continue for a while.”
After the deadly 1822 event, aftershocks carried on into the following year.
What might the final death toll be?
Earthquakes of similar magnitudes in populated areas have killed thousands of people. Nepal’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake in 2015 claimed nearly 9,000 lives.
“It’s not going to be good,” said Musson. “It will be in the thousands, and could be in the tens of thousands.”