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Second quake hits devastated region

Second quake hits devastated region

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey’s Hatay province on Monday, two weeks after massive tremors and a series of powerful aftershocks devastated the region, injuring or trapping people in already damaged buildings.

Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said three people were killed and 213 injured. A relief group with workers in Syria said people were jumping from buildings in a panic.

“The new tremors have unsettled families and communities whose sense of security was already shaken to the core,” Jenelle Eli, a global spokeswoman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told USA TODAY from Geneva.

In Hatay, police rescued a person trapped in a three-story building and tried to reach three others inside, HaberTurk television reported. It said those trapped included movers who helped people move furniture and other items out of the building, which was damaged in the massive quake.

Syria’s state news agency SANA reported that at least six people were injured by falling debris and taken to hospital in Aleppo.

The newest:

►Turkish state agency Anadolu said the quake was felt in Syria, Jordan, Israel and Egypt.

►Buildings that have survived so far may have weakened and collapsed, trapping people who were taking shelter

►The USA has been providing aid since the first round of the earthquake. Secretary of State Antony Blinken took a helicopter tour of some of the worst-hit areas on Sunday and pledged another $100 million in aid to help the region.

Panic jump from buildings

In northwestern Syria, aid workers from the nonprofit Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations-USA reported at least 94 injuries and several collapsed buildings, with a number of people injured after jumping from buildings.

“Most injuries are the result of people panicking,” said Najah Allouch, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota-based group. “The latest information we have is that eight people jumped and were injured in fear of their buildings collapsing. Luckily they only got hurt.”

Dead, injured are still counted

In the Turkish city of Adana, eyewitness Alejandro Malaver said people were leaving their homes on the streets and carrying blankets into their cars. Malaver said that everyone is really scared and that “no one wants to go back into their homes.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly visited the region earlier Monday. Around 1.6 million people are currently being accommodated in emergency shelters, said Erdogan.

“We’re hearing reports of damage and separated loved ones, and so the nightmare of the past few weeks is beginning all over again for some residents,” Eli told USA TODAY.

Turkey’s civil protection agency AFAD said the quake was concentrated around the city of Defne in Hatay province. A 5.8 magnitude earthquake followed. Reuters reported Monday’s quake sparked panic and damaged buildings in the city of Antakya.

Hatay Province is located on the Mediterranean coast and borders Syria to the south and east. The province was hit by the February 6 quakes, which Turkish officials say have killed more than 41,000 people in their country alone. In Syria, too, several thousand people died as a result of the tremors, which injured tens of thousands of people in both countries and made hundreds of thousands homeless.

USA PROVIDE ASSISTANCE: Foreign Minister Blinken traveled to the earthquake region in Turkey and pledged 100 million dollars in aid

A disaster struck the region on February 6th

On February 6, a 7.8-magnitude quake struck southern Turkey, the US Geological Survey said. Hours later, a magnitude 7.5 quake struck more than 60 miles away. Numerous violent aftershocks followed, leaving destruction and devastation in their path.

RESCUE:Couple rescued more than 12 days after earthquake in Turkey, Syria, but children die

More than a week after the earthquake, search teams said they could still hear voices under the rubble. Despite the rare, inspiring rescues, thousands of bodies have been removed from collapsed buildings and experts said the chances of finding survivors are diminishing. Two weeks later, many people are left homeless on the streets.

Aftershocks collapse damaged buildings

With so many people sheltering in temperatures that still fall below freezing on some nights, they seem willing to take the risk of entering seemingly undamaged buildings.

But those buildings may have been damaged by the first tremors and were in danger of collapsing when this powerful new aftershock struck, said California-based civil engineer Andy Thompson.

“It’s an extremely challenging situation, made much worse by the ongoing aftershocks and concerns that damaged buildings could collapse,” said Thompson, who has responded to earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and India. “Maybe you have an undamaged house that’s in the shadow of a building that’s about to collapse.”

Thompson, the CEO of earthquake assessment company SafeHub, said quickly assessing damage levels to buildings is a difficult task, complicated by ongoing rescue efforts, a lack of heavy equipment and safety concerns from aftershocks.

“In such situations we would never say that a building is safe. What structural engineers would say, what we’re looking at is asking, ‘Is it less safe than it was before the main event?’” he said. “The challenge is that you have to make thousands of assessments very quickly with a limited number of experts.”

Desperate survivors taking risks

Former US Marine Andrew Cote, who recently returned from the Hatay area after a four-day search and rescue trip, said many buildings that are still standing nonetheless stand on the precipice.

In one instance, he said, two approximately six-story apartment buildings slid sideways into one another, posing a significant risk of another collapse. In many other places, the first floors of buildings collapsed, but the rest of the building remained standing, sometimes with an outer wall missing.

He said even without a tremor, parts of the building were still falling almost two weeks after the first tremor. But with nowhere else to go, people camp outside their former homes or sleep in cars to keep warm in temperatures that still drop below freezing on some nights.

“My immediate thought is that the few buildings that were still standing vertically have now collapsed, expanding the search area exponentially,” he said Monday, reflecting on the new quake.

Cote works for BRINC Drones, which makes tactical drones with bi-directional video and audio capabilities. In Hatay, they used the drones to fly up several floors, smash a window, and then fly down hallways and rooms to search them, keeping rescuers outside until it was deemed safe or necessary to enter.

Cote said many international teams have sophisticated thermal imaging cameras or acoustic sensors, but most searches are being conducted by hand by desperate local residents looking for family and friends.

“I saw people climbing around without shoes — it was so emotionally driven, certainly as an afterthought,” he said. “They were there with their hands, with fence posts that they turned into crowbars.”

New damage is exacerbating the existing humanitarian catastrophe

Authorities warn that the disaster areas could be engulfed by a cholera epidemic, adding to the already dire risks faced by displaced residents.

Many people live in makeshift shelters with poor access to sanitation, raising concerns about the spread of infectious diseases. Syria was already facing a cholera outbreak, and a vaccination campaign to stem the spread was halted by the quake.

Additionally, millions now live without permanent shelter or access to preventative medicine or treatment for ongoing diseases like diabetes as resources focus on acute and disaster care.

“Restoring access to basic health and water services is critical to preventing outbreaks and saving lives,” said Eli, spokesman for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

How to help Turkey and Syria:Relief efforts are underway after more earthquakes in the rocky region

Contribution: The Associated Press

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