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Turkey is hit by earthquake: Buildings collapse as powerful 5.6-magnitude tremors rattle country

Turkey has been hit by another earthquake that caused buildings to collapse, three weeks after a catastrophic tremor devastated the country, killing 48,000 people.

The 5.6-magnitude quake was centered in the city of Yesilyurt in Turkey’s southern Malatya province, the country’s disaster management agency said. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Yesilyurt Mayor Mehmet Cinar told HaberTurk television that some buildings had collapsed in the city.

Malatya was one of 11 Turkish provinces hard hit by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that devastated parts of southern Turkey and northern Syria on February 6.

That earthquake caused more than 48,000 deaths in both countries, as well as the collapse or serious damage of 173,000 buildings in Turkey.

People take their belongings out of their destroyed houses after the February 26, 2023 earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Turkey.

AFAD, Turkey’s disaster management agency, said about 10,000 aftershocks have hit the quake-hit region since February 6.

On Monday of last week, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey’s Hatay province, which was one of the hardest hit by the February 6 quake.

Turkey’s disaster management authority AFAD said last week’s quake killed six people and injured 294 others, including 18 who were in critical condition.

Meanwhile, Turkish police have arrested 184 people suspected of being responsible for the collapse of buildings in the catastrophic earthquake on February 6 that killed 48,000 people.

Investigations into who is responsible for the collapsed buildings are widening, a minister said on Saturday, as anger simmers over what many see as corrupt construction practices.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said more than 600 people had been investigated in connection with the collapsed buildings, during a news conference in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, which is among the 10 provinces affected by the the disaster.

Among those formally arrested and in pretrial detention are 79 construction contractors, 74 people who have legal responsibility for the buildings, 13 owners and 18 people who had made modifications to the buildings, it said.

Many Turks have expressed outrage at what they see as corrupt construction practices and flawed urban developments.

President Tayyip Erdogan, facing the biggest political challenge of his two-decade rule in elections scheduled for June, has vowed accountability.

In Gaziantep province, the mayor of Nurdagi district, who belongs to Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, was among those arrested as part of investigations into the collapsed buildings, state broadcaster TRT Haber and other media reported. .

Nearly three weeks after the disaster, there is no final death toll in Turkey and authorities have not said how many bodies may be trapped under the rubble.

A firefighter helping clear rubble in the hard-hit city of Antakya said body parts were being found daily.

‘It is very difficult. You can’t tell a man to keep working if he’s lifting a person’s arm,” said the firefighter, who declined to be named.

Nearly two million people made homeless by the disaster are being accommodated in tents, container houses and other facilities in the region and in other parts of the country, Turkey’s disaster management authority said.

More than 335,000 tents have been erected in the earthquake zone and container house settlements are being established at 130 locations, while nearly 530,000 people have been evacuated from the affected areas, it added.

But near Antakya, Omran Alswed, a Syrian, and his family still live in makeshift shelters.

“Our houses are badly damaged, so we have taken refuge here, in a garden in our neighborhood,” Alswed said.

‘The biggest problem is the tents. It’s been 19 days and we still haven’t received a single tent. We also requested to move to a tent camp, but they said the ones close by are full,” she said.

This is breaking news, more to follow…