The Turkey-Syria border was jolted by earthquakes of magnitude 6.3 and 5.8 yesterday that is on 20th February 2023. Around six people succumbed to injuries while 294 persons were wounded. This happens after the region was already devastated by an earthquake two weeks before that mercilessly killed more than 47,000 people combined in both Syria and Turkey. As per the information relayed by Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, firstly the region experienced a jolt of 6.3 Richter scale followed by another tremor of magnitude 5.8 after three minutes. As per the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre, the earthquake struck at a depth of ten kilometers. Areas apart from Syria and Turkey which experienced earthquakes were Lebanon, Egypt, Israel, and Jordon. People residing in Hatay (Turkey) province were urged to stay away from the coast as it is anticipated that an earthquake might result in an increase in sea level by around twenty inches.
TRACING THE REASONS BEHIND TURKEY-SYRIA EARTHQUAKES
The region was last hit by an earthquake in the year 2020. Scientists explain that Syria and Turkey are located in seismically active regions. The seismic fault line referred to as Anatolia tectonic block runs through eastern, northern, and central Turkey. The seismicity in these regions is the repercussion of interactions amongst African, Eurasian, and Arabian Plates. The Arabian plate pushes itself in a northward direction while the Anatolian plate, where Turkey is situated, moves in a western direction. These movements happen near the vertical fault line on the east side of the Anatolian block which is quite close to the Syrian periphery. These movements are a major reason behind the earthquakes in Turkey-Syria.
SHALLOWER THE EARTHQUAKE, THE GREATER THE DAMAGE
There are multiple reasons which determine the amount of damage resulting from an earthquake. Some of the reasons are the magnitude of the earthquake, distance from the epicenter, and geological conditions like the type of soil, etc. One important determinant of damage is the depth of the earthquake. In case the earthquake’s depth is shallow, the region is prone to more damage. An earthquake that occurs within the crust of the earth at a depth of fewer than seventy kilometers is termed a shallow earthquake. Scientists explain that shallow earthquakes cause more damage in comparison to deep earthquakes. It is so because, in the case of deep earthquakes, much energy is lost within the deeper layers of the earth while in shallow earthquakes there is a release of energy near the earth’s surface, consequently causing great damage to the infrastructure and may result into other disasters such as landslides.
The President of Turkey Tayyip Erdogan has assured people that in the month of March, construction work of two lakhs apartments would be taken up in eleven provinces of Turkey badly hit by the earthquake. India was amongst the first countries to send teams to Turkey and Syria two weeks back to conduct extensive search and rescue operations along with the setting up of a Field Hospital by the Indian Army at Hatay to render medical assistance. Mitigation efforts in Syria are facing difficulties since areas that require assistance are under the control of insurgents. The World Food Programme has been continuously exerting pressure on authorities in such regions to refrain from blocking access to aid from regions that are under the control of Assad’s government. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs yesterday conveyed that 197 trucks containing United Nations assistance have crossed northwest Syria through two borders. The United States State Department has released a statement that the United States’ humanitarian assistance to help Turkey and Syria has touched 185 million dollars.
The United Nations Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency has given data as to how many pregnant women are in urgent and dire need of health amenities. Around 3,56,000 pregnant women are there who need urgent medical attention. Many of these women have taken refuge in camps to save themselves from extreme cold weather conditions. These women are in a dearth of clean food and water.
Prayers and help from all around the world pour in for Turkey and Syria but the situation in these regions would return to normal only gradually. Till the situation reverts to normal, it is essential for the government to, apart from providing medical and financial assistance, work on providing psychological assistance to its people which is perhaps more important at times when such disasters take place.