Magnitude 6.8 Earthquake in Turkey and Syria, killing six

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit the city of Antakya, near the Syrian border, on February 20th, leaving at least six dead.  The drastic 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck just two weeks before, and most of the buildings affected by this second earthquake were already empty, drastically reducing the death toll from the 44,000 earlier.  

The Richter Scale is used to measure earthquake magnitude by using logarithms of ten.  The 6.4 magnitude earthquake was over ten times less powerful than the first one, but still inflicted much damage on the affected cities.

The newest earthquake struck at 8:04 pm local time, and was followed by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake three minutes later.  There were dozens of aftershocks which weren’t as severe yet some tremors had reportedly been felt in Lebanon and Egypt.

Dr. Fahrettin Koca, the Health Minister of Turkey, announced that 294 victims were injured — 18 of which were hurt badly.

The people of Turkey and Syria are still traumatized by the first disastrous earthquake two weeks ago.  

“Most of the injuries are a result of people panicking,” said Najah Allouch, speaking for the Minnesota-based humanitarian aid group.  During the second earthquake, in Turkey outside a volleyball center-turned-refugee bunker, people were running in the streets instead of staying put and lying low.  In northwest Syria, out of 94 injured people, eight had jumped out of buildings in panic of their collapse.

“I thought the earth was going to split open under my feet,” Muna al-Omar, a local resident, said.  She and her seven-year-old son had been living in a tent in the park city center.

After the second quake, people have been scared to return to their homes.  Many families have pulled blankets out of the rubble and taken to their cars to sleep, distrusting the structural integrity of their homes. 

The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the region on Monday.  He stated around 1.6 million people were displaced from their homes and are residing in temporary housing.

He also stated that the disasters that took place would not go unanswered.  After visiting Osmaniye (a southern province) he declared that those who build the structurally unsound buildings would be held accountable for the damage and therefore punished.  Over 100 arrests have already been warranted to those having connections to constructing the buildings.

In the meantime, the Syrian and Turkish people alike are still in need of humanitarian aid.  Countries around the world have sent rescue teams and aid to help these countries through this natural disaster.  The U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, stated the U.S. would be sending 85 million dollars in aid and whatever else the victims may need.