San Francisco Chronicle
Panic, fear grip residents hit with loss after newest quake
ISTANBUL — Survivors of the earthquake that jolted Turkey and Syria 15 days ago, killing tens of thousands of people and leaving hundreds of thousands of others homeless, dealt with more trauma and loss Tuesday after another deadly quake and aftershocks rocked the region.
The 6.4 magnitude earthquake that struck Monday evening had its epicenter in the Defne district of Turkey's Hatay province, which was of the area's worst affected by the Feb. 6 magnitude 7.8 quake that killed nearly 46,000 people in the two countries.
Turkey's disaster management authority, AFAD, said the new quake killed six people and injured 294 others, including 18 who were in critical condition. In Syria, a woman and a girl died as a result of panic during the earthquake in the provinces of Hama and Tartus, pro-government media said.
Monday's quake was felt in Jordan, Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon and Egypt. A magnitude 5.8 quake followed, along with dozens of aftershocks. The White Helmets, northwest Syria's civil defense organization, said about 190 people suffered injuries in rebel-held areas and that several flimsy buildings collapsed but there were no reports of anyone trapped under the debris.
In Turkey, teacher Zuher Capar, 42, said he was mourning the loss of relatives in the original earthquake and having a meal with his aunt and uncle near the Hatay town of Samandag when they felt Monday's temblor.
“It shook a little, then it grew strong,” he said. “The electricity went and there were screams everywhere. There were small children in the house.”
On Feb. 6, Capar rushed to try to help his cousin, the cousin's wife and the couple's small children out of the rubble of their collapsed home, but they did not survive.
“We had barely overcome the sadness (from the first earthquake),” he said.
While his family's home withstood the earlier quake, it was damaged Monday. Capar said they are too frightened to sleep there. “We are trying to stay strong but it is a terrifying process. The cities we knew, the memories we had, have been destroyed,” he said. “When we go in the streets, there is only rubble and heavy machinery. It's like a horror movie scene.”
Turkish officials warned residents not to go into the remains of their homes, but people have done so to retrieve what they can. Three of the people killed Monday were inside a damaged fourstory building when the new quake hit.
Aftershocks and the instability of the structure complicated the rescue effort, and it took several hours for search crews to find the bodies, Turkish news agency DHA said.