Hopes were fading as rescuers searched for survivors in Turkey and Syria

Aftershocks and Seismology of the Eastern Anatolian Fault: The Unstable Earthquake of Monday morning in Turkey and Syria

More than three days after the quake and aftershocks hit the two countries, the number of dead surpassed 16,000, according to The Associated Press. Turkey’s government said that in addition to nearly 13,000 people killed, more than 60,000 have been injured. In Syria, more than 3000 people have died and 5000 have been injured.

Generally speaking, the larger the mainshock, the larger the aftershocks, which tend to decrease in frequency and severity as time goes on. There have been many aftershocks from the original earthquake as well as a magnitude 7.5 aftershock which hit north of the original fault line. “This is a really complicated system of faults, since the crust is really crushed there,” says Alice Gabriel, a seismologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. That complexity means that what happens in one fault doesn’t stay there. It may be that the stress that led to the 7.4 quake had been going on for a while and the shock from the mainshock unleashed it. “It sort of advanced its clock a bit, so that it had the large earthquake that it would have eventually anyway, probably a bit sooner,” says Austin Elliott, an earthquake geologist at the United States Geological Survey. Such aftershocks are “just simply other earthquakes—there’s nothing that makes them distinct. It’s just that an earthquake so large changes the stress in the earth’s crust so substantially that it increases the rate of all other earthquakes locally.”

Plates are mass of rock that move independently in the earth’s crust, but contacts each other along fault lines. “Eventually, the stress and strain is going to overcome the friction that is holding the rocks together, and those rocks are going to break in an earthquake,” says Bohon. Waves are what we feel when rocks break and they release energy in the form of waves.

The mainshock Monday morning struck along some 125 miles of the East Anatolian Fault, a well-known fault line in southern Turkey. The stress between two mass of rock was built up by a fault when it was strike-slip. It was also very shallow underground, meaning it created more intense shaking at the surface. In 1906, San Francisco was destroyed by a strike slip fault, that is the San Andreas Fault in California.

Rescue workers in Turkey and Syria were pressed into action for a third day as the death toll from this week’s earthquake reached a grim milestone.

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In the city of Antakya, resident Hamideh Mansulolu stood outside what used to be the seven-story residential building where she lived with her family, waiting to hear whether her son, Sedat, survived.

Aid groups consider the first 72 hours after a natural disaster as crucial for rescuing 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. authorized road from Turkey to northern Syria that was damaged during the earthquake doesn’t exist anymore, and there is no heavy equipment or other infrastructure to support the hundreds of thousands displaced by this disaster.

More than a hundred million dollars in aid has been sent to Syria by Iran, Libya and United Arab Emirates and more than 50 other countries have sent aid to Turkey.

More than 320,000 people have been temporarily displaced by this disaster and the agency has set up more than 62,000 tents for them to live in.

Rescuers are digging through the rubble to find survivors after the earthquake caused buildings to be flattened and there are deaths expected to increase further. Nature spoke to four people about what will happen in the next few days.

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The North and East Anatolian Faults are the two major faults of the Anatolian plate. David Rothery, a geology professor at the Open University, said that the plate is moving northward and is squeezing Turkey out towards the west. “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 now with earthquakes.”

Few buildings in the city of Kaharamanmaras have been undamaged by the earthquakes, but some newer neighborhoods have suffered less obvious damage.

More than eleven years of conflict have made building standards impossible to enforce in Syria. 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. It is possible that they fell down more readily than things built at a higher cost. He states that they have yet to find out.

The weather for tonight is expected to be cold. That means that if people are trapped in the rubble they will freeze to death. These dangers continue, he says.

The body of a 4-year-old girl wrapped in a pink blanket was brought out Wednesday from the wreckage of a building in the Turkish city of Kahramanmaras. She’s one of the latest young victims of Monday’s massive quake.

The body of a person thought to be a Syrian refugee in his 40s which was found by excavators was on a mattress, just like many of the others who were killed in the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck around four a.m.

In a neighboring building, also collapsed, rescuers were digging down from the top to try to reach one or possibly two people thought to be alive. A man directed a pneumatic hand-operated drill to clear away the rubble with his bare hands, after a generator was brought up to power it.

There was still a lot of work to be done, but rescuers sent a waiting ambulance away after he spotted signs of life beneath the wreck.

A man volunteering at one of the hospitals in Kahramanmaras told CNN Wednesday there were 350 bodies in the morgue that had not been collected by relatives because their family members had died.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan: “We are face to face with a great disaster” and “our hope is in the future in the near future”

On Wednesday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Kahramanmaras, a city near the epicenter of the quake, telling survivors that “we are face to face with a great disaster.” There is growing public anger that the rescue response has been slow, and Erdogan acknowledged there were shortfalls by his government in the immediate aftermath of the quake. The president cited winter weather conditions and destroyed infrastructure, including airport runways, as complicating factors.

Flanked by officials, he visited an emergency relief area set up by the country’s disaster management agency, AFAD. Row after row of shining white tents could be seen in the sports stadium, destined to house some of the thousands of families who’ve lost their homes.

In a televised briefing from the relief center, Erdogan said the government’s target was to rebuild the Kahramanmaras region “in one year” and that people would get help with emergency housing.

He said that they could never allow their citizens to stay on the streets. The state is using all of its resources. We will continue to do that.

He acknowledged the government’s initial response “had some problems” in terms of natural gas supply and roads, but said the situation was “under control.” The government is planning to give 10,000 Turkish liras (around $531 USD) to help families impacted, he added.

Many people were heard crying and sad by the fallen buildings where they lived until disaster struck.

A handful clutched photographs of loved ones who are under the rubble, less in hope of their rescue than as an act of remembrance – holding out snaps of their children or wedding pictures and saying “they are gone.”

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/08/europe/kahramanmaras-turkey-quake-rescue-efforts-intl-cmd/index.html

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A three-month state of emergency has been declared in 10 Turkish provinces, and aid agencies have warned of “catastrophic” repercussions in northwest Syria, where millions of vulnerable and displaced people were already relying on humanitarian support.

It was hard to reach everyone everywhere because of the large scale of the earthquake. Erdogan said nobody would be “left in the streets.”

Istanbul’s stock exchange closed until Feb. 15 after initial trading showed rapid declines, triggering a circuit breaker when declines reached 7%. Inflation was so out of Control in Turkey that it was already reeling from.

The crowd chants “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for God is Great. Volunteers and civil defense groups — themselves earthquake survivors — pull a boy out from the rubble alive in rebel-held northwestern Syria.

Rescue efforts continue as others are trapped under the rubble. Stories of miraculous rescues, like that of a baby girl born under the rubble, are a bullhorn for what’s at stake.

The world is aware of these rescues due to Karam Kellieh, who lives in the opposition-controlled territory. The area has four million displaced people by the Syrian civil war. Even before the earthquake, the area was devastated by bombs and poverty. Aid was often hampered by politics and the Syrian government.

He said that humanitarian aid and international aid didn’t show up until 72 hours after the earthquake.

“Rescue efforts are being carried out by poorly equipped civil defense groups and civilians are trying to help,” Kelliah said. “Everyone’s waiting for international rescue and aid just to be able to process what’s happened, this catastrophe.”

11,000 families in the rebel-held part of Syria are homeless, due to the earthquake. According to the UN, there have been up to 2,000 deaths and thousands of injuries.

“The situation remains grim in north-west Syria where only five percent of reported sites are being covered by search and rescue,” the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report.

People are digging with their own hands in many areas, but the situation is particularly dire in northwestern Syria, where there is little heavy machinery to lift rubble. Power outages have resulted in fuel shortages in hospitals.

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