update deskMiddle East

6.4-magnitude quake leaves several dead, hundreds injured in Turkey

Two separate, smaller quakes, one in southern Turkey and one in the Eastern Mediterranean, were also felt in Israel, but resulted in no injuries or damage.

Members of the Israeli military delegation to Turkey work against the clock to rescue people trapped by rubble following the deadly earthquakes in Turkey. Credit: IDF.
Members of the Israeli military delegation to Turkey work against the clock to rescue people trapped by rubble following the deadly earthquakes in Turkey. Credit: IDF.

Several people were killed and hundreds injured in Turkey on Monday by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake centered in the country’s Hatay province that was felt in Lebanon and Israel.

The country is still reeling from a pair of massive earthquakes on Feb. 6 that, together with hundreds of aftershocks, left more than 40,000 people dead in what the World Health Organization has called the region’s worst natural disaster in a century.

Two additional quakes hit the Middle East around the same time as Monday’s 6.4 magnitude tremor, both of which were also felt in Israel, according to the Geological Survey of Israel.

A 5.6 magnitude tremor hit southern Turkey just after 7 p.m. local time, and a 3.6-magnitude quake centered in the Eastern Mediterranean early on Tuesday morning, according to the GSI.

In response to the deadly Feb. 6 quakes, the Israel Defense Forces launched “Operation Olive Branches” to Turkey, which rescued 19 people from the rubble. The Israeli military’s 400-plus-strong delegation was supported by emergency medical specialists from the defense and health ministries, fire and rescue services, Magen David Adom, United Hatzalah and Zaka, among others.

Israel has scrambled to improve its earthquake preparedness in the wake of the Turkey disaster, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directing National Security Council head Tzachi Hanegbi to “update and reiterate the steps we need to take.”

The Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee called for an emergency meeting, and State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman urged the government not to delay, saying the wave of deadly earthquakes in the region should be viewed as a warning.

Experts have stressed that Israel’s current state of earthquake readiness is concerning. A 2018 report by the previous comptroller estimated that a major earthquake could result in 7,000 casualties and leave 170,000 people homeless. A report from last year found that 600,000 buildings in the country do not meet the standard for earthquake resistance.

Israel is located along the Great Rift Valley, an active geological fault line presenting several significant hazards for the area, including frequent minor earthquakes and the potential for more serious seismic events.

Israel had a long history of earthquakes, with a major one occurring approximately every 100 years. The last major earthquake to hit the country was in 1927. That quake, which had a magnitude of 6.2, claimed 284 lives and injured 940.

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