Why was the earthquake which hit Turkey and Syria so devastating?

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A 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck on Monday devastated wide areas of Turkey and Syria, killing thousands of people.

Here is what is known about the earthquake.

– What happened?

The quake hit at a depth of 11 miles (18km) and was centred in southern Turkey, near the northern border of Syria, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

MIDDLE EAST Earthquake
(PA Graphics)

Scientists are studying whether a magnitude 7.5 earthquake that hit nine hours after the main shock was an aftershock. Ms Hatem said it appears to be the case.

“More aftershocks are certainly expected, given the size of the shock,” Ms Hatem said. “We expect aftershocks to continue in the coming days, weeks and months.”

– What type of earthquake was this?

Researchers said the earthquake was a strike-slip quake, where two tectonic plates slide past each other horizontally, instead of moving up and down.

Earthquake hits the Middle East
Emergency services at the scene of a collapsed building (Mehmet Yetim/PA)

The quake occurred in a seismically active area known as the East Anatolian fault zone, which has produced damaging earthquakes in the past.

Turkey had another major earthquake in January 2020 — a magnitude 6.7 that caused significant damage.

– Why was this earthquake so devastating?

The earthquake was one of the biggest strike-slip earthquakes that has hit on land, Ms Hatem said.

Earthquake hits the Middle East
A collapsed building in Sanliurfa, Turkey (Mehmet Yetim/PA)

Building collapses were reported in cities including Diyarbakir, Turkey, and Aleppo, Syria.

Rescue efforts were also hampered by freezing temperatures and traffic jams caused by residents trying to leave earthquake-stricken areas.

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