Turkey has been hit by another earthquake today, killing one person, injuring 69 others and causing already damaged buildings to collapse – three weeks after a catastrophic tremor devastated the country and killed 48,000 people.
The magnitude 5.6 earthquake was centred in the town of Yesilyurt in Malatya province in southern Turkey, the country’s disaster management agency said.
A father and daughter were rescued from beneath the rubble of a four-storey building and carried to an ambulance on stretchers. Yesilyurt’s mayor, Mehmet Cinar, said the pair had entered the damaged building to collect belongings.
Dramatic footage shows already damaged buildings collapsing into piles of rubble on the streets of Malatya following the earthquake, while search-and-rescue teams sifted through the rubble of another building that toppled on top of some parked cars.
Malatya was among 11 Turkish provinces that was hit hard by the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that devastated parts of southern Turkey and northern Syria on February 6. That quake led to more than 48,000 deaths in both countries as well as the collapse or serious damage of 173,000 buildings in Turkey.
Yunus Sezer, head of Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) told a news conference today that search and rescue teams had been deployed to five buildings in Malatya.
A father, identified as Aziz Deliktaş, was rescued from the rubble of his home and carried on a stretcher into an ambulance. Rescue crews managed to reach his daughter, Şeyma Deliktaş, soon afterwards and safely carried her to medics.
Earlier, footage showed the rescue teams telling everyone to be quiet before they all – in unison – shouted the woman’s name and then stood together in silence in the hope they might hear her calling for them.
The rescuers all cheered when they eventually found the woman and pulled her out of the rubble.
The AFAD tweeted that 29 buildings already damaged by a powerful February 6 earthquake had collapsed.
‘Our search and rescue teams were quickly dispatched to the region, and started to work,’ it added.
AFAD earlier said that close to 10,000 aftershocks have hit the region affected by the quake since February 6. That deadly quake – and the aftershocks that have followed – will have a deep psychological impact on locals, experts and officials say.
Experts fear children will be hardest hit. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said many of the more than 5.4 million children who live across the quake zone were at risk of developing anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
On Monday last week, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck the Turkey’s Hatay province, which was of the area’s worst affected by the February 6 earthquake.
Turkey’s disaster management authority, AFAD, said last week’s quake killed six people and injured 294 others, including 18 who were in critical condition.
Meanwhile, Turkish police have arrested 184 people suspected of responsibility for the collapse of buildings in the catastrophic February 6 earthquake that killed 48,000 people.
Investigations into who is responsible for the collapsed buildings are widening, a minister said on Saturday, as anger simmers over what many see as corrupt building practices.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said that more than 600 people had been investigated in connection with collapsed buildings, speaking during a news conference in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, which was among 10 provinces hit by the disaster.
Those formally arrested and remanded in custody include 79 construction contractors, 74 people who bear legal responsibility for buildings, 13 property owners and 18 people who had made alterations to buildings, he said.
Many Turks have expressed outrage at what they see as corrupt building practices and flawed urban developments.
President Tayyip Erdogan, who faces the biggest political challenge of his two-decade rule in elections scheduled to be held by June, has promised accountability.
In the province of Gaziantep, the mayor of the Nurdagi district – who is from Erdogan’s ruling AK Party – was among those arrested as part of the investigations into collapsed buildings, state broadcaster TRT Haber and other media reported.
Nearly three weeks since the disaster, there is no final death toll in Turkey and officials have not said how many bodies may still be trapped under the rubble.
A firefighter helping to clear the rubble in the hard-hit city of Antakya said body parts were being found on a daily basis.
‘It’s very difficult. You cannot tell a man to continue working if he’s lifting out a person’s arm,’ said the firefighter, who declined to be identified.
Nearly two million people left homeless by the disaster are being housed in tents, container homes and other facilities in the region and in other parts of the country, Turkey’s disaster management authority said.
More than 335,000 tents have been erected in the quake zone and container home settlements are being established at 130 locations, while nearly 530,000 people have been evacuated from affected areas, it added.
But near Antakya, Omran Alswed, a Syrian, and his family are still living in makeshift shelters.
‘Our houses are heavily damaged so we have taken shelter here, in a garden in our neighbourhood,’ said Alswed.
‘The biggest issue is tents. It has been 19 days and we are yet to receive a single tent. We also applied to move into a tent camp but they said the ones nearby are full,’ he said.