Earthquake Turkey and Syria: why was it so destructive?

A strong earthquake measuring 7.8 struck the Turkey and Syria on the night of February 6, 2023, followed by many other tremors, causing tens of thousands of victims, injuries, damage and collapse of buildings.

The epicenter was located in Kahramanmaraş province in southeastern Turkey bordering northern Syria.

But why was the earthquake in Turkey and Syria so catastrophic and caused so much damage and casualties?


The earthquake in Turkey and Syria of February 6, 2023

The earthquake in Turkey and Syria, from a geological point of view, was triggered by sliding movement of the so-called East Anatolian Fault, about 500 km long, in a point that connects the Anatolian plate to the Arabian and African ones. The movement of the ground is assumed to be equal to about 3 meters.

But why was there so much damage to structures?

The violent earthquake struck the Turkey southern and the Syria it caused thousands of buildings to collapse, resulting in scores of casualties and injuries, as well as a fort humanitarian crisis.

From the images and videos that have been released in the media, a substantial number of reinforced concrete buildings consisting of several floors have collapsed with a subsidence of the ground floor. The various collapses start mainly from the lower floors, symptoms of the lack of adequate criteria seismic design.


Collapsed buildings following the earthquake in Turkey, February 2023 


Poor quality materials used for building constructions during Turkey's economic boom allegedly contributed to the massive catastrophe.


Earthquake damage in Turkey and Syria, 2023 

Furthermore, from the aerial photos it was possible to ascertain that many of the collapsed buildings had been built right along the fault line, where the earthquake produced a dislocation of the land elon the ground it moved horizontally about three meters.


Earthquake damage in Turkey and Syria, 2023 


Other structures were badly hit and, despite remaining standing, present serious structural damage, also caused by subsequent tremors (or aftershocks).

Many of the buildings that collapsed in Turkey are residential structures that are very similar in shape and construction technology to those in Italy. It is necessary to reiterate how, in countries with high seismic risk, it is increasingly necessary for a strong one to assert itself seismic prevention culture to prevent tragedies like this from happening.


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