The cause of the Turkish earthquake caused great casualties
The shallow epicenter, which occurred early in the morning, and the prone to collapse of structures were factors that contributed to the earthquake in Turkey that killed more than 1,200 people.
The Turkish Emergency and Disaster Response Agency (AFAD) said a 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck at 4:17 a.m. (8:17 a.m. Hanoi time) on February 6 in Pazarcik district, near the city of Kahramanmaras, in province of the same name in the southern part of the country.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) assessed the quake as 7.8 magnitude, centered at a depth of more than 17 km. This is the strongest earthquake Turkey has experienced since 1939.
USGS seismologist Susan Hough said the quake caused heavy damage because of the location and depth of the epicenter.
“The world has seen more earthquakes of this magnitude in the last 10-20 years, but quakes near magnitude 8 do not usually occur at shallow fault sites,” Hough wrote on Twitter. “They are especially dangerous if the epicenter is near densely populated areas.”
In fact, the incident not only affects Turkey, but also neighboring countries such as Syria, Lebanon, and Cyprus. The northwestern region of Syria is considered one of the most severely affected.
Turkish authorities recorded large and rapidly increasing casualties. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on February 6 that 912 people had been killed and more than 5,000 injured, of which the heaviest damage was in Kahramanmaras province. Nearly 900 buildings in Kahramanmaras and the nearby province of Gaziantep were destroyed.
“Turkey has experienced earthquakes that have killed thousands of people, partly because of the way houses are built here,” Martin Mai, a professor of geophysics at King Abdullah University in Saudi Arabia, told Al Jazeera.
According to the USGS, buildings in Turkey are often built of bricks, without reinforcement, with concrete frames that lack flexibility and are difficult to withstand strong vibrations. Some witnesses said buildings built according to earthquake-resistant standards were still standing, while many surrounding houses collapsed or even caught fire.
“Pazarcik has become ruins,” said Huseyin Sati, a resident of Pazarcik. “The building where I live is not too tall and built to the right standards, so it didn’t collapse, but still had cracks in the walls.”
Photos on Turkish media showed many high-rise buildings completely collapsed, becoming rubble burying many people below.
In Syria, building collapse is also the leading cause of death of at least 326 people, of which Idlib province, in the northwest of the country, is one of the hardest-hit areas. The opposition Syrian Civil Defense described the situation in the area as “tragic”, with many buildings completely collapsed and people trapped below.
Idlib, a province with a population of about 4 million, has been ravaged by a civil war that has lasted more than 10 years, with millions of people living in displaced areas. Several other provinces in Syria such as Hama, Aleppo and Latakia also suffered significant damage.
Most of the houses in these areas were damaged by the fighting and easily collapsed during earthquakes. The lax construction safety supervision in the area also makes it difficult for structures to withstand shaking.
The second factor that caused the high casualties was the disaster that occurred in the early morning, when most of the people were sleeping, leaving them unable to escape and trapped in the rubble.
Meanwhile, the rescue force also faced many difficulties due to bad weather, unable to promptly rescue trapped victims.
“Unfortunately, we still have difficulties with extreme weather,” said Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay. The temperature in Gaziantep today is forecast to drop to -6 degrees Celsius. Ankara has called for help from the international community to deal with the disaster.
The influx of people trying to flee the damaged areas also caused traffic jams, hindering rescue efforts. Turkish officials urged people not to rush into the streets. Mosques were opened as evacuation sites for those unable to return home amid the cold weather.
In Syria, images on Syrian state television showed rescue teams searching for survivors in the snow. The few clinics in the area became overwhelmed when the number of injured people brought in was too large.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered condolences to the leaders of Turkey and Syria, saying Moscow is ready to provide all necessary assistance to Ankara and Damascus.
White House security adviser Jake Sullivan said the US was “deeply concerned” and was monitoring the situation closely. “I have discussed with the Turkish authorities that we are ready to provide all necessary assistance,” he said.
Several other countries such as France, Germany, India, Pakistan, Azerbaijan and Ukraine have also expressed condolences and pledged to support Turkey and Syria after the disaster.
Based on a model built from past earthquakes, the USGS estimates the death toll to be in the range of 1,000-10,000. The agency estimates that Turkey’s economic loss is about 1-10 billion USD.
Turkey is regularly hit by earthquakes. In 1999, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck the city of Izmit, southeast of Istanbul, killing more than 17,000 people. In 2011, an earthquake struck the eastern city of Van, killing more than 500 people.
Like Tam (According to CNN, Guardian, AP)