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Why the earthquake in Turkey and Syria was so devastating?


The place of the epicenter, the time and the safety of the buildings, some keys to understanding such a deadly phenomenon.


combination of factors

explains the high number of deaths and injuries and the serious damage caused by the earthquake on Monday that devastated several towns in Turkey and Syria.

The death toll did not stop growing with the passing of the hours this Monday.

By nightfall in Turkey there were already more than 2,300, but rescue teams continued to find bodies under the rubble and in hospitals many of the injured did not manage to survive.

The location of the epicenter of the earthquake, of 7.8 degrees, the time it occurred, the distant background and some

lax security measures when building

help to explain this deadly balance.

Here are some keys to understanding a tragedy that immediately awoke international solidarity.

Collapsed buildings in Diyarbakir, Turkey, after the fierce earthquake on Monday.

Photo: EFE

high population

It was the strongest earthquake recorded in Turkey since 1939,

hitting a populated region.

It happened at dawn, at 4:17 local time, so it

surprised the population sleeping


The vast majority of the victims "were trapped when their houses collapsed," explained Roger Musson, a researcher for the British Geological Survey to the AFP agency.

The construction methods "were not really suitable for an area prone to large earthquakes," the expert explained.

The fracture line where the seismic movement occurred has been relatively calm in recent times.

Turkey is one of the most active seismic regions in the world.

An earthquake in the Duzce region (north) in 1999 caused more than 17,000 deaths.

This time the quake struck at the other end of the country, on what is known as the East Anatolian fault.

This region

had not experienced an earthquake greater than magnitude 7 in more than 200 years.

Probably for this reason, its inhabitants "were negligent," Musson explained.

And because of that long period of relative calm, the power of the fault "was accumulating", added the specialist.


The region suffered another 7.5-magnitude tremor 7.5 hours later, which would confirm that

a lot of power had been built up

that needed to be released, he added.

On August 13, 1822, this same area suffered an "almost equal" hit, with an earthquake reaching a magnitude of 7.4.

It caused "enormous damage, with cities completely in ruins and tens of thousands of casualties," Musson said.

The aftershocks lasted until June of the following year, he recalled.

In addition, the epicenter of the earthquake on Monday was relatively shallow, just 17.9 kilometers, and was located in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, where some two million people live.

The Arabian tectonic plate moved north.

"Having no space, it collides" with the Anatolian plate.

This rubbing reverberates throughout the entire fault, explains this expert.

Rescue and search tasks in a building collapsed by the earthquake in Hama, Syria, this Monday.

Photo: AP

great expanse

The epicenter is not as important in this case as the extension of the

telluric movement, along 100 km.

something rare.

"That means that within that margin of 100 km along the fault, everything" suffers the consequences of the tremor, he added.

And earthquakes also cannot be predicted, said Carmen Solana, a volcanologist at the University of Portsmouth in Britain.

"Adapted infrastructures are scarce in southern Turkey and especially in Syria, so now the priority is to save lives," recalled this expert.

Turkey had passed legislation in 2004 to strengthen construction criteria, after the 1999 earthquake.

In Syria, because of the war, the situation is probably worse.

"Many structures had already been weakened by a decade of war," recalled Bill McGuire, a volcanologist at University College London.

Source: AFP 


look also

The Government expressed its condolences for the earthquake in Turkey and Syria: so far, there are no Argentines among the victims

Earthquake in Turkey: seven keys to understanding the severity and intensity of these phenomena

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-02-06

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