Turkey has been struck yet again by seismic tremors.  A strong earthquake measuring 5.6 struck the province of Van in eastern Turkey overnight on November 9-10. The toll so far is of 7 dead and about 100 missing. The area has already been the scene of the devastating earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale on October 23 which left over 600 dead and 4,200 wounded.

The strong quake struck at around 21.23 yesterday in the District of Edremit centered about 16 km from the city of Van, the coordination center of rescue teams from the earthquake of October 23. Here, 25 buildings collapsed, among them also six hotels that housed teams of firefighters and journalists. The Bayram Hotel in Van was flattened. Dozens of people, some of whom are foreign journalists, are feared trapped.

According to experts, the number of casualties could have been higher. In recent weeks, most of the population had been evacuated. To avoid further incidents, Omer Dincer, Turkish Minister for Education had delayed the reopening of schools in the province of Van closed for the Islamic holiday of Eid to December 5. The government is set to send another 300 rescuers with nine aircraft to the area. The Turkish government has sent 15,000 tents to temporarily house those left homeless. Rescue workers speeded up their search for survivors by daylight on November 10 and tried to open tunnels into the debris, CNN-Turk television reported. Rescuers used high-powered lights at night to search for victims despite the several aftershocks. At least 23 have been reportedly rescued.  

More than 5,700 buildings have collapsed or are unusable in the province. Last night’s collapsed buildings can be attributed to the fragility of the structures damaged by the previous shock. The population now lives in a refugee camp with over 40,000 tents. To date, the most affected center is north of Van, on a branch of the great lake of the same name. In recent weeks the area was plagued by more than 2,300 aftershocks of which at least seven of a magnitude between 5 and 6.



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