The earthquakes in Turkey and Syria lasted months or even years

The earthquake aftershock of Monday morning struck along a well-known fault line in southern Turkey: Melting the aftermath of a San Francisco building

That will make the crisis in Turkey and Syria even worse. We are unable to say that it is good or that you’re done. It was terrible, and it’s over now. Because that’s just not how the earth works,” says earthquake geologist Wendy Bohon. “It just really sucks to know that these people are going to have to continue to feel shaking from earthquakes for a long time, after they’ve been so traumatized and gone through such a devastating experience.”

People are urged to prepare for a number of earthquakes and aftershocks as well as worsening weather. “The possibility for major aftershocks causing even more damage will continue for weeks and months,” says Ilan Kelman, who studies disasters and health at University College London.

Earthquakes are products of plate tectonics: Plates are great masses of rock that move independently in the earth’s crust, but contact each other along faults. When the stress and strain of the rocks are overcome, they’re going to break in an earthquake. Waves are what we feel when the rocks break, and they are what we feel when we shake.

The mainshock Monday morning struck along some 125 miles of the East Anatolian Fault, a well-known fault line in southern Turkey. The stress built up between the two rocks was the cause of the strike-slip earthquake. It is shallow underground and creates more intense shaking at the surface. The San Francisco area was destroyed by a strike-slip fault in 1906.

Turkey’s government said search and rescue teams have pulled more than 8,000 people from underneath the rubble of thousands of toppled buildings in the past two days. There were growing concerns that survivors may die because of worsening weather conditions in the region.

I know my son is inside and I think he is still alive. His brother dug with his hands to find him,” she told NPR. After digging at the ruins of the building, rescuers found his body and wrapped him in a blanket for his mother to farewell him.

Anatolian earthquakes and reconstruction in Syria: a study by AFAD and the Gaziantep project, Turkey, and a neighbouring country

The first 72 hours after a disaster can be crucial for the rescue of survivors. In neighboring Syria, the government has blamed Western sanctions for hampering relief efforts, but the U.S. says sanctions do not include humanitarian assistance. The only U.N. road from Turkey to that region was damaged by the earthquake and northern Syria doesn’t have enough infrastructure to help hundreds of thousands displaced by this disaster.

Iran, Libya, and the United Arab Emirates have sent hundreds of millions of dollars worth of aid to Syria, and dozens of countries have sent aid to Turkey, including more than 5,000 rescue workers who are arriving in the disaster area.

Turkey’s emergency management agency, AFAD, reports it has set up more than 70,000 tents for emergency shelter to the more than 380,000 people who have been temporarily displaced by this disaster.

The earthquake and its aftershocks have flattened buildings and sent rescuers digging through concrete debris to find survivors, with the death toll expected to increase further. Nature spoke to four people about the activity in the region and what the next few days will bring.

Most of Turkey sits on the Anatolian plate between two major faults: the North Anatolian Fault and the East Anatolian Fault. The tectonic plate that carries Arabia, including Syria, is moving northwards and squeezing Turkey to the west as it collides with the southern rim of the Eurasia, according to a scientist at the Open University. “Turkey is moving west about 2 centimetres per year along the East Anatolian Fault,” he adds. Half the length of this fault is lit up by earthquakes.

In a study1 published last March in Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering, Arzu Arslan Kelam at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara, and her colleagues suggested that the centre of the city of Gaziantep would experience medium-to-severe damage from a magnitude-6.5 earthquake. Most of the existing buildings are low-rise brick structures that are close to each other.

In Syria, over 11 years of conflict have made it difficult to enforce building standards. The earthquake struck Syria’s northwestern regions, with buildings collapsing in Aleppo and Idlib. Some war-damaged buildings in Syria have been rebuilt using low-quality materials or “whatever materials are available”, says Rothery. “They might have fallen down more readily than things that were built at somewhat greater expense. We’ve yet to find out,” he adds.

The weather is expected to be very cold for tonight. People who are trapped in the rubble, who may be saved, could very well freeze to death. These hazards continue, he says.

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