Two Major Earthquakes Hit Turkey Just Weeks Apart in 2011

Two major earthquakes in Turkey occurred less than 3 weeks apart.  Turkey is situated above two major fault lines and is prone to frequent earthquakes. Hopefully knowing this fact will prompt people to be prepared with an emergency plan in place.  The first quake was a magnitude 7.1 (initially reported as 7.2) on October 23, 2011 with the epicenter located 9 miles NNE of the city of Van.

More than 600 people were killed in this first earthquake with more than 4,000 people injured.  At least 2,000 buildings were destroyed in this 7.1 quake and nearly 4,000 more were determined to be uninhabitable.  Over 1,000 aftershocks resulted from this powerful quake.  Locals have criticized the slowness of the government’s response.

A second earthquake measuring 5.6 (preliminary measurement was 5.7) took place just 17 days later on November 9, 2011.  This second quake was not an aftershock but an entirely new plate movement which was centered 9 miles south of Van, Turkey on a new fault line.  Although the epicenters of the two earthquakes were located on opposite sides of Van, the actual distance between the two epicenters are only approximately 25 miles apart.

As shown in the video above, rescue teams in Van, Turkey sprang back into action searching through rubble, responding to reports of voices calling for help after a second major earthquake struck the region causing two hotels and dozens of other buildings to collapse.

More than a week before the second quake, officials had told locals that it was safe to go back inside.  This decision has been seen as a tragic misjudgment by some.  Eyewitnesses had described seeing large cracks in the walls of a hotel in the center of Van which collapsed during the second quake.  The hotel was reported to have had dozens of occupants, some of which have been able to be rescued alive.

Questions are being asked as to why a comprehensive assessment of the structure and safety of the remaining buildings were not made in a timely manner after the second quake.  Turkish authorities stated that plans are in place to conduct these inspections following the Eid holidays.

Experienced rescue teams with heavy lifting equipment were on hand in Turkey in the region following the second quake.

Filed under: Natural Disasters In...

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