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What caused the Turkey earthquake? An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 struck central Turkey and northwest Syria, killing over 1000 people and injuring hundreds more as buildings collapsed, prompting searches for survivors.
Official figures from Turkey say 1,014 people were killed there, 5,383 were injured, and 2,818 buildings had collapsed. Syria’s health ministry said that more than 326 people had been killed and 1,042 injured.
The disaster struck shortly after 04:00 a.m. (local time), affecting the central region of Turkey and northwest Syria, with a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale.
Damaging M7.8 EQ hit southern Turkey near the Syrian border ~4am local time. PAGER is red for this event; extensive damage is probable. Our hearts go out to those affected. See @Kandilli_info for local info. https://t.co/dMyc6ZVrE1 https://t.co/0OxrznZf1v pic.twitter.com/eco071JqVm
— USGS Earthquakes (@USGS_Quakes) February 6, 2023
The quake, which struck central Turkey and northwest Syria on Monday, was also felt in Lebanon and Israel. Tremors were also felt in Ankara, Turkey, which is 460 kilometers (286 miles) northwest of the epicentre, and in Cyprus, where police reported no damage.
The earthquake on Monday was as powerful as the one in 1939, which remains the most powerful and deadly quake recorded in the country’s northeast (Izmit), claiming over 30,000 lives.
What caused the Turkey earthquake?
Turkey is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries due to its location on the Anatolian Plate, which is bounded by two major faults as it shifts northeast against Eurasia.
The North Anatolian fault runs from west to east across the country, while the East Anatolian fault is located in the country’s southeast. This grinding was crucial in causing large earthquakes that moved progressively from east to west over a 60-year period.
NEW: We’re learning that, in some places along the East Anatolian Fault, the Anatolian Plate slid past Arabian plate with a slip of *up to* 3 meters (roughly 10 feet). #TurkeyEarthquake #Turkiye
How much of an area along the fault ruptured? On order of 140 miles by 15 miles. pic.twitter.com/FQF1VDMHOt
— Matthew Cappucci (@MatthewCappucci) February 6, 2023
Turkey’s deadly quakes in the past
The area of Van (close to the Iranian border) has been particularly badly affected by earthquakes over the decades with two quakes in October and November of 2011 causing the loss of more than 900 lives.
A magnitude 7.4 earthquake that struck the western Turkish city of Izmit killed more than 17,000 people. The 1999 earthquake was part of a sequence along the North Anatolian Fault that started in 1939, causing large earthquakes that moved progressively from east to west over a period of 60 years.
The 1976 Çaldıran–Muradiye earthquake occurred in November with the epicenter located near Çaldıran, 20 km northeast of Muradiye, in the Van Province of eastern Turkey. The earthquake had a magnitude of 7.3 with between 4,000 and 5,000 casualties.
The quake in Turkey on December 27, 1939 registered 8.2 on the Richter scale and remains the most powerful one that has ever been recorded in the history of the country causing more than 30,000 lives to be lost in the 1939 Erzincan earthquake.