Monday, October 24, 2011

Earthquakes Jolt Turkey, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Iran

A powerful 7.2- magnitude earthquake shook southeast Turkey on 23 October killing up to 1,000 persons as it triggered the collapse of dozens of buildings across the region. The hardest hit was Ercis, a city of 75,000 close to the Iranian border, which lies on the Ercis Fault in one of Turkey’s most earthquake-prone zones. Van, some 55 miles (90 km) to the south, also suffered substantial damage.
Emergency workers battled to rescue people trapped in buildings in the city of Van and its surrounding districts on the banks of Lake Van, near Turkey's border with Iran.
Around 10 buildings collapsed in Van city and about 25-30 were brought to the ground in the nearby district of Ercis, Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said: "We estimate around 1,000 buildings are damaged and our estimate is for hundreds of lives lost. It could be 500 to 1,000.”
Turkey's Red Crescent said one of its local teams was helping in the rescue of people from a student residence in Ercis. It said it was sending tents, blankets and food to the region.
More than 20 aftershocks shook the area, further unsettling residents who ran out on the streets when the strong quake struck. Television pictures showed rooms shaking and furniture falling to the ground as people ran out from buildings.
Dozens of emergency workers and locals crawled over the rubble of a multi-storey building in Van searching for people who could be trapped inside. Elsewhere, vehicles lay crushed by falling masonry in the street while dazed-looking persons wandered past.
The Kandilli Observatory, which initially cited a magnitude of 6.6, said the earthquake struck at 1041 and was 5 km deep. The The US Geological Survey (USGS) had earlier reported that the magnitude was 7.6.
Turkish media said phone lines and electricity had been cut off. The quake's epicentre was at the village of Tabanli, 20 km north of Van City.
Earthquake-Prone Country
Turkey is earthquake-prone due to being crossed by several fault lines. In 1999, two strong quakes in the heavily-populated and industrialized regions of northwest Turkey left some 20,000 dead. And a powerful earthquake in the town of Caldiran in Van province killed 3,840 people in 1976.
More recently, a 6.0-magnitude quake in March 2010 killed 51 people in eastern Turkey, while in 2003, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake killed 177 people in the southeastern city of Bingol.
Turkey’s worst earthquake in the last century came in 1939 in the eastern city of Erzincan, causing an estimated 160,000 deaths.
Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city with more than 12 million people, lies in northwestern Turkey near a major fault line. Istanbul is ill-prepared for a major earthquake and experts have warned that overcrowding and faulty construction could lead to the deaths of over 40,000 people if a major earthquake struck the city.
Strong Quake in New Zealand
Caused by a powerful 7.6-magnitude earthquake, New Zealand's Kermadec Islands region in the South Pacific was jolted on 24 October. According to the USGS, the quake was centered 180 km (112 miles) east of Raoul Island at a depth of about 24 miles. The islands lie about 800 miles (1,200 km) north of the North Island.
New Zealand, currently hosting the Rugby World Cup, lies on the Pacific "ring of fire", a zone of frequent seismic activity, and is prone to earthquakes.
The second largest city, Christchurch, was devastated by a 6.3-magnitude quake in February which killed 181 people, after many of its buildings were weakened by a previous earthquake in September 2010.
Papua New Guinea Jolted
The Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea was jolted by a 6.7-magnitude undersea earthquake on 22 October, but no tsunami warning was issued.
The USGS said the quake occurred at a depth of 45 km (28 miles), 103 km east of the mountain city of Lae and 326 km north of the capital Port Moresby.
Papua New Guinea, mired in poverty despite rich mineral deposits, sits on the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire", a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.
A giant tsunami in 1998, caused by an undersea earthquake or a landslide, killed more than 2,000 people near Aitape, on the country's northwest coast.
Moderate Intensity Earthquake Hits Iran

The earthquake was also felt over the border in northwest Iran, causing some panic in major cities, Iranian media reported, but without any mention of casualties or damage.

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