A 6.4-magnitude earthquake and a second measuring 5.8 have hit Turkey’s southern province of Hatay, terrifying those left in a region devastated by twin earthquakes two weeks ago.
Turkey’s interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, said that at least three people were killed and 213 wounded by the latest quakes, after a large government hospital in the city of İskenderun in the north of Hatay province declared it was evacuating patients.
The quake was felt in neighbouring Syria, where the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported more than 500 injured in the north-west.
One person was reported dead in the town of Samandag in Hatay by Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority AFAD. Residents there said more buildings collapsed but most of the town had already fled after the initial earthquakes. Mounds of debris and discarded furniture lined the dark, abandoned streets.
The latest quakes, less powerful than the 7.8- and 7.5-magnitude earthquakes that tore a path of destruction through southern Turkey and northern Syria on 6 February, threaten yet more devastation in a region where many people have fled their destroyed homes for the safety of other towns and villages outside the quake zone.
The larger quake struck at a depth of just 2km (1.2 miles), the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said, potentially magnifying its impact at ground level. It was centred near the southern Turkish city of Antakya and was felt in Syria, Egypt and Lebanon.
Turkey’s disaster management agency AFAD said the epicentre of the larger quake was below the Defne district of Hatay, in a region where many have complained of a lacklustre government response to the first earthquakes.
In the Hatay town of Ekinci, Ata Koşar – who lost his brother, sister-in-law and nephew when their nearby luxury apartment block collapsed during the earthquakes two weeks ago – said: “It was the first day we’d decided to stay in our house as it’s just one floor, and I was using our heater to try to stay warm, demonstrating what to do in case another earthquake happened.
“I was lying on the floor, and as I was lying there another earthquake happened. We heard what sounded like more buildings collapsing again, and more damage to our house.”