Turkey shaken by new 6.4 magnitude earthquake as fears rise over casualties in region
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A 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey on Monday evening (February 20) as the nation continues to recover from the devastating quake that claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people.
According to Turkey’s disaster and emergency agency Afad as reported by the BBC, the tremor occurred at 8.04pm local time (5.04pm GMT). Witnesses told Reuters there had been further damage to buildings in one of the worst hit regions, Antakya.
Initially, a tsunami alert was issued in Antakya with people advised to move away from the coast to higher ground, as well as to follow the advice of national authorities. However, after further evaluation, the Turkish disaster management agency, AFAD, rescinded the tsunami alert.
On February 6, a 7.8-magnitude struck the region, killing more than 44,000 people in Turkey and Syria. The mayor of Hatay, in southern Turkey, has said people are trapped under the rubble. The Turkish vice president said at least eight people were injured in the earthquake.
Turkish authorities have recorded more than 6,000 aftershocks since that earthquake hit, but the BBC team in the region said Monday’s tremor felt much stronger than previous ones. Witnesses said it was also felt in Syria, Egypt and Lebanon.
It is currently unclear how much damage it has caused or if there are any casualties. Muna Al Omar, a local resident, told Reuters she was in a tent in a park in central Antakya when the earthquake hit.
She said: "I thought the earth was going to split open under my feet," she said, crying as she held her seven-year-old son. Is there going to be another aftershock?". AFP reported there were scenes of panic in Antakya, with the latest tremors raising clouds of dust in the city.
It also reported the walls of badly damaged buildings also crumbled with several apparently injured people calling for help. Ali Mazlum said he was looking for the bodies of family members from the previous earthquake when the latest one hit.
He said: "You don’t know what to do... we grabbed each other and right in front of us, the walls started to fall. It felt like the earth was opening up to swallow us up.” In Syria, the civil defence group White Helmets said several people were injured by falling buildings.