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Turkey: New earthquake injures over 60 in hard-hit region

February 27, 2023

Southeastern Turkey experienced another serious earthquake on Monday amid continuing clear-up efforts from this month's major tremor. The 5.6 magnitude event toppled several buildings and killed at least one person.

Rescue workers among the rubble of a collapsed building in Malatya, Turkey
Authorities say 29 buildings collapsed in the latest quake, more than 160,000 collapsed or sustained damage on February 6Image: Selami Kucukoglu/AA/picture alliance

Southeastern Turkey was hit by yet another deadly earthquake on Monday, with rescue operations still ongoing to rescue people trapped under buildings.

It's the fourth major earthquake to hit the region in three weeks, coming after the February 6 earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria.

What happened in the latest quake?

Monday's event measured a magnitude of 5.6 according to Turkish authorities, who said the quake took place in the Malatya province.

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC) put the magnitude at 5.2, and said it occurred at a depth of 6.15 kilometers (3.8 miles).

One person has been reported dead and 69 injured, with authorities saying 29 buildings collapsed as a result of Monday's tremor.

Malatya province was badly hit in the February 6 catastrophe — losing about 2,300 residents according to Mayor Selahattin Gurkan.

An excavator and rescue workers dig through a buliding turned into a massive pile of rubble in the February 6 earthquake that struck Turkey and neighboring Syria
Tremors have continued as Turkey seeks to dig out from its deadliest earthquake everImage: CLODAGH KILCOYNE/REUTERS

On Monday, Yunus Sezer, who runs Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), said rescue teams had been deployed to five buildings in Malatya.

AFAD's general director of earthquake and risk reduction, Orhan Tatar, said the region had suffered what AFAD considers four independent earthquakes in the past three weeks, as well as more than 45 aftershocks measuring between 5.0 and 6.0. He called this "very extraordinary activity."

AFAD tweeted that Monday's quake had destroyed buildings, and that search and rescue teams had been dispatched to the area.

Quake hits region already devastated

On February 6, Turkey and neighboring Syria were rocked by 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude quakes that killed more than 50,000 people. Rescue and recovery efforts have been ongoing due to the massive scale of devastation.

The death toll has risen every day since as rescue teams continue to recover bodies trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings.

More than 20 million people have been affected by the geological catastrophe in Turkey and another 8.8 million in Syria.

The United Nations said the February 6 quake was the deadliest in Turkish history.

Turkey: Experts inspect buildings left standing after quake

Shoddy buildings pose political risk for Erdogan

More than 160,000 buildings collapsed or were severely damaged in the February 6 quake. The AFAD has repeatedly warned people to stay away from damaged buildings in earthquake zones.

To date, Turkish authorities have arrested 184 individuals for possible complicity in the collapse of numerous buildings in the region. On Saturday, authorities announced they would continue to expand their investigation.

The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been quick to blame developers for the massive damage. These are accused of having used substandard materials and workmanship while raking in profits during Turkey's building boom — one of the main drivers of its ailing economy.

Erdogan is facing perhaps his largest political challenge yet. He was elected as prime minister in 2003 in the wake of another massive quake that killed over 18,000 people in 1999. Erdogan served as prime minister until 2014, when he ran for president and was elected to the post he still currently holds.

The country is now assessing how it can go ahead with elections scheduled for June.

Prior to recent elections, Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) made a point of granting amnesty to builders whose structures did not meet Turkish building standards.

Erdogan, who has run the country for two decades, has promised to rebuild some 270,000 homes in the region within one year's time.

Turkey's High Election Board was set to dispatch a delegation to the quake-hit region Monday in an effort to determine whether the tally could go ahead.

js/rs (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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