As quake rescue efforts wind down, another huge tremblor hits

ISTANBUL, 21 Feb 2023:

Turkish officials called off search and rescue missions for survivors in most quake-struck areas yesterday, as the number of those killed in the country by the Feb 6 earthquakes stood at 41,156 in Turkiye and over 5,000 in northern Syria.

Rescue efforts have been completed in all provinces except in hard-hit Hatay, where 15 buildings are still being searched, said Yunus Seker, chairman of AFAD, Turkiye’s national emergency service.

Another large earthquake yesterday shook the southern Turkish province of Hatay. The latest temblor, measuring magnitude 6.4 with its epicentre to the south of the city of Antakya, was also felt in neighbouring countries.

No information was available on further damage or casualties, but numerous reporters on the ground in Antakya said the quake caused panic among survivors who are being housed in tents.

At least one already half-destroyed building collapsed entirely and debris from other structures damaged parked cars, reports NTV.

None of the buildings in Antakya were habitable following the earthquake on Feb 6, but debris removal teams may have been trapped by Monday’s tremor.

Many survivors of the first two temblors have been gathering around bonfires in front of collapsed buildings to help identify bodies, and could be at risk if a structure that is still standing collapses.

“It was terrible, broken windows have fallen on us. Everyone has come out of the tents in panic. Because of the darkness you still can’t see what has happened,” Ugur Sahin, a reporter for the daily BirGün, said by phone.

Meanwhile, AFAD has so far set up 300,000 tents to shelter survivors and is planning to build at least 100,000 prefabricated houses over the next two months.

Some 1.3 million people are now living in tents, prefabricated houses or temporary care facilities in the affected regions, while almost 1 million others have left to other provinces, Seker pointed out.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes affected 13 million people across the quake-hit region

According to the latest figures, some 118,000 buildings – totalling 400,000 homes– have collapsed in the 11 quake-affected provinces.