Fear and panic amid new earthquakes hitting the Turkish-Syrian border, killing 6 | Turkey and Syria earthquake news

A 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck the border region between Turkey and Syria, killing at least six people, two weeks after the region was devastated by earthquakes that killed more than 47,000 people in both countries.

Live updates: New earthquakes hit Turkey and Syria

Monday’s quake hit Defne in Hatay province at 8:04 p.m. (1704 GMT) and was strongly felt in the provincial capital Antakya as well as Adana province, 200 kilometers (300 miles) to the north. Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said a 5.8-magnitude earthquake followed three minutes later.

On Tuesday, the head of Disaster and Emergency Management Yunus Sezer raised Turkey’s death toll from three to six, and said 294 people had been injured.

The official Turkish news agency Anatolia reported that tremors on Monday were felt in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Egypt.

Syria’s official news agency, SANA, reported that six people were injured in Aleppo from falling debris, while the mayor of Hatay said several buildings had collapsed, trapping people inside.

The Disaster and Emergency Management Agency initially urged people in Hatay province, in the eastern Mediterranean, to stay away from the coast, warning that earthquakes could cause sea levels to rise by as much as 50 centimeters (20 inches).

Two bodies were recovered from the building

Al Jazeera’s Asad Baig, from Antakya, Turkey, said two bodies were recovered from a collapsed building while a third man was taken out alive by rescuers.

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“We understand that four men entered the building to retrieve some belongings. The authorities have warned against going into the buildings but no one really expects another earthquake of the magnitude we saw.”

Resident Mona Al-Omar said she was in a tent in a park in central Antakya when the earthquakes hit on Monday.

“I thought the ground would open up under my feet,” she said, sobbing as she held her seven-year-old son. “Will there be another aftershock?”

On February 6, earthquakes measuring 7.8 and 7.6 struck southeastern Turkey and neighboring Syria, killing more than 47,000 people and displacing a million people. The economic cost of the disaster is expected to run into tens of billions of dollars.

Mehmet Kokum, an associate professor of geology in Elazig, Turkey, said there have been more than 5,000 aftershocks since the February 6 earthquake.

“It’s totally expected,” Kokum told Al Jazeera. “We know from our experience that aftershocks will last from months to years. But they will decrease day by day.”

Lotvu Savas, the mayor of Hatay, said several buildings collapsed on Monday. Savaş said he believed those trapped had either returned to their homes or were trying to move furniture from their damaged homes.

In the Turkish city of Adana, Alejandro Malaver said people fled their homes into the streets, carrying blankets into their cars, where many planned to sleep.

Syria struck again

Abdelkafi al-Hamdo, an opposition activist in northern Syria, said the survivors of the February 6 earthquake were horrified by the recent earthquakes.

“This earthquake, although it was a little shorter and weaker, caused more terror to people,” he told Al Jazeera.

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“Because of the previous experience, people panicked and shocked, so everyone rushed outside. Some people had accidents in speeding, and some even jumped from their balconies to escape the earthquake. People here are not safe.”

Media in Syria’s Idlib and Aleppo governorates reported that some buildings collapsed and electricity and internet services were disrupted in parts of the region, which was badly damaged by earthquakes two weeks ago. Many people fled their homes and gathered in open areas.

The Syrian American Medical Society, which runs hospitals in northern Syria, said it had treated a number of patients, including many who had heart attacks due to fright.

The Syrian Civil Defense, a volunteer emergency response group in opposition-held areas also known as the White Helmets, has urged residents of northwest Syria to follow guidelines on how to respond to earthquakes and evacuate buildings.

The death toll from earthquakes two weeks ago rose Monday to 41,156 in Turkey, the disaster management agency said, and is expected to rise further. About 6,000 people have been killed in Syria.

An estimated 385,000 apartments were destroyed or severely damaged, and many people are still missing.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said construction of nearly 200,000 apartments in 11 quake-hit provinces will begin next month.

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