Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

What to Know about the Big Quake that Hit Türkiye and Syria

What to Know about the Big Quake that Hit Türkiye and Syria

Monday, 6 February, 2023 - 16:30
Emergency personnel search for victims at the site of a collapsed building after an earthquake in Diyarbakir, southeast of Türkiye, 06 February 2023. (EPA)

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Monday devastated wide swaths of Türkiye and Syria, killing thousands of people.

Here's what to know about the quake.

What happened?

The quake hit at depth of 11 miles (18 kilometers) and was centered in southern Türkiye, near the northern border of Syria, according to the US Geological Survey.

Many aftershocks have rocked the area since the initial quake. In the first 11 hours, the region had felt 13 significant aftershocks with a magnitude of at least 5, said Alex Hatem, a USGS research geologist.

Scientists are studying whether a magnitude 7.5 quake that hit nine hours after the main shock is an aftershock. Hatem said it appears to be the case.

“More aftershocks are certainly expected, given the size of the main shock,” Hatem said. “We expect aftershocks to continue in the coming days, weeks and months.”

What type of earthquake was this?

Researchers said the earthquake was a strike-slip quake, where two tectonic plates slide past each other horizontally, instead of moving up and down.

In this case, one block moved west while the other moved east — grinding past each other to create the quake, Hatem said.

The quake occurred in a seismically active area known as the East Anatolian fault zone, which has produced damaging earthquakes in the past.

Türkiye had another major earthquake in January 2020 — a magnitude 6.7 that caused significant damage.

Why was this earthquake so devastating?

The earthquake was powerful — one of the biggest strike-slip earthquakes that has hit on land, Hatem said.

“On top of that, it's located near populated areas,” she said.

Building collapses were reported in cities including Diyarbakir, Türkiye, and Aleppo, Syria.

Rescue efforts were also hampered by freezing temperatures and traffic jams from residents trying to leave quake-stricken areas.

Editor Picks