Aftershocks in Turkey’s Hatay province were shallow, posing a serious threat to those in the quake zone.
A shallow magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck the Turkey-Syria border region, killing at least three people just two weeks after quakes killed tens of thousands.
According to the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre, Monday’s aftershock was centered in Turkey’s southernmost province of Hatay at a depth of 2km (1.2 miles).
Suleyman Soylu, Turkey’s Interior Minister, said three people were killed and more than 200 were injured.
The quake struck Defne at 8:04 p.m. (17:04 GMT) and was felt strongly in Antakya, Hatay’s nearby capital, and Adana, 200 kilometers (300 miles) to the north.
A second 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook the region several minutes later, according to Turkey’s disaster management agency.
It was centered in the Hatay district of Samandag.
The tremors were felt in Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.
Hatay province borders the Mediterranean Sea, and the disaster agency advised residents to avoid the coast, warning that the quakes could cause sea levels to rise by 50cm (20 inches).
According to Syria’s state news agency, SANA, six people were injured in Aleppo by falling debris, while the mayor of Hatay said a number of buildings collapsed, trapping people inside.
Assed Baig of Al Jazeera reported from Gaziantep, Turkey, that aftershocks were still occurring and that more structures were being destroyed in the area.
“There are buildings that are still standing but are damaged,” Baig explained.
“The fear is if there are more aftershocks like this, it could bring down those buildings, threatening lives.
Many people here are terrified.”
According to witnesses, Turkish rescue teams are scurrying around after the latest quakes, assessing whether people require assistance.
Muna al-Omar said she was in a tent in a park in central Antakya when the earthquakes struck on Monday.
“I thought the earth was going to split open under my feet,” she said, crying as she held her 7-year-old son. “Is there going to be another aftershock?”
On February 6, magnitude 7.8 and 7.6 earthquakes struck southeast Turkey and neighboring Syria, killing over 47,000 people and displacing one million.
The disaster’s economic cost is expected to be in the tens of billions of dollars.
According to Mehmet Kokum, an assistant professor of geology in Elazig, Turkey, there have been over 5,000 aftershocks since February 6.
“This is quite expected” he told Al Jazeera. “We know in our experience the aftershocks will last from months to years. But it’s going to decrease day by day.”
Hatay’s mayor, Lutfu Savas, said a number of buildings collapsed on Monday.
According to Savas, those trapped are thought to have either returned to their homes or were attempting to move furniture from damaged homes.
According to Alejandro Malaver of the Turkish city of Adana, people fled their homes for the streets and carried blankets to their cars, where many plan to sleep.
“Syria hit Again”
The latest tremors terrified quake survivors, according to Abdulkafi al-Hamdo, an opposition activist in northern Syria.
“This earthquake, although it was shorter and a little bit weaker, caused more horror for people,” he told Al Jazeera.
“Because of the previous experience, people have panic, trauma, so everyone rushed outside. Some people got into accidents rushing out, some even jumped from their balconies to escape the earthquake. People here are not safe.”
Some buildings in Syria’s Idlib and Aleppo provinces collapsed, and electricity and internet services were disrupted in parts of the region, which was also severely affected by the quakes two weeks ago.
According to news reports, many people have fled their homes and are congregating in open areas.
The Syrian American Medical Society, which operates hospitals in northern Syria, said it treated a number of patients, including several who had heart attacks as a result of their fear.
The Syrian Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, a volunteer emergency response group in opposition-held areas, urged residents of northwest Syria to follow guidelines on how to respond to earthquakes and evacuate buildings.
The death toll from the quakes two weeks ago rose to 41,156 in Turkey on Monday, according to the disaster management agency, and it was expected to rise further.
In Syria, approximately 6,000 people were killed.
An estimated 385,000 apartments were destroyed or severely damaged, and many people are still unaccounted for.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said next month that construction on nearly 200,000 apartments in 11 earthquake-affected provinces would begin.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES