The latest news reports have put the death toll at more than 200 with over 1,000 injured as a strong magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck eastern Turkey at 10:41 UTC (1.41 pm local time) near the city of Van in Eastern Turkey. However, the toll is expected to rise, as rescuers reach isolated mountain villages in the region.
Catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide issued a preliminary bulletin indicating that the quake’s magnitude was 6.6. However, AIR noted that the U.S Geological Survey has “issued a preliminary moment magnitude estimate of 7.2 and a focal depth of 20 km.
“If the USGS estimate is closer to the actual magnitude,” AIR said it “is the largest earthquake to strike Turkey since the 1999 magnitude 7.2 Duzce earthquake, which killed close to 1,000 people. Earlier that year, a magnitude 7.6 near Izmit in northwest Turkey killed nearly 20,000 people.”
According to city officials, today’s earthquake has collapsed buildings in Van and the nearby town of Ercis, although the numbers being reported are conflicting. The Turkish Red Crescent said that 10 buildings collapsed in Van; other reports put the number in Van and nearby towns at 45. A number of aftershocks have followed the main shock, two of which were magnitude 5.6.
According to AIR, in Turkey “the majority of residential and commercial buildings located in urban areas are reinforced concrete (RC) with masonry infill. Most of these buildings, which are three to seven stories high, have cast-in-place RC frames with hollow brick infill panels and partition walls that are not connected to the frame.
“Research regarding the poor seismic performance of RC buildings during historical earthquakes in Turkey reveals design and construction deficiencies, including a lack of lateral resistance in the framing systems, irregularities in strength, poor quality construction materials, and inadequate reinforcement detailing and confinement in beam-column joints.”
AIR also pointed that it “is in the very early aftermath of this event, and source parameters may change as reports continue to come in from seismic networks around the world. Further information will be provided Monday, October 24th as more detailed data is available.”
Sources: news reports & AIR Worldwide
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