ISTANBUL: The death toll from a catastrophic earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria climbed above 35,000 on February 13, with search and rescue teams starting to wind down their work.
Officials and medics said 31,643 people had died in Turkey and 3,581 in Syria from last Monday’s 7.8-magnitude tremor, bringing the confirmed total to 35,224.
A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit southeast Turkey and Syria on February 6, toppling buildings and sending panicked residents pouring outside in a cold winter night.
The quake’s focus was 18 km deep, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The epicentre was about 33 km from Gaziantep. The area has many buildings constructed of brittle concrete (which makes them prone to cracking, spalling, loss of strength, or steel corrosion), making them “extremely vulnerable to earthquake shaking”, according to the USGS.
Turkey is frequently shaken by earthquakes. In 2020 itself, it recorded almost 33,000 earthquakes in the region, according to Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD). Out of these, 332 earthquakes were of magnitudes 4.0 and higher.