Quake in Iran kills 9 in neighbouring Turkey

24 February, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Quake in Iran kills 9 in neighbouring Turkey

Houses are reduced to rubble after an earthquake hit villages in Baskale in Van province, Turkey, at the border with Iran, on Sunday. – AP PHOTO

ISTANBUL: A magnitude 5.7 earthquake in northwestern Iran on Sunday killed at least nine people in neighbouring Turkey and injured dozens more on both sides of the border, authorities said, reports AFP.

The epicentre of the quake, which struck at 9:23 am (0553 GMT), was near the Iranian village of Habash-e Olya, less than 10 kilometres (six miles) from the border, according to the US Geological Survey.

The earthquake had a depth of six kilometres, said Tehran University’s Seismological Centre.

In Turkey, it was felt mostly in the eastern district of Baskale in Van province on the Iran border.

Turkish broadcaster NTV showed images of collapsed adobe houses in several snow-covered villages in Van province.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said nine people were killed, speaking to reporters from the quake scene in Van. Four of the dead were children.

“We have right now no citizens trapped under the rubble,” he said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone with his interior minister for information about the situation, the Turkish presidency said.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 37 people were injured and nine of them were in critical condition.

He said that 25 ambulances, one rescue helicopter and teams of medics were rushed to the quake region.

Turkish officials said some schools were also damaged in several villages.

The impact of the quake in Iran was less severe, according to latest reports.

It injured at least 40 people in Iran’s West Azerbaijan province, 17 of whom had been hospitalised, the country’s emergency services said.

The same source also said there was damage to buildings in 43 villages.

Sunday’s earthquake was felt in several Iranian cities, including Khoy, Urmia, Salmas and Osku, state media reported, citing West Azerbaijan’s crisis management centre.

The tremor was one of the biggest to have hit Iran since two struck near a nuclear power plant in December and January.

Iran’s Gulf Arab neighbours have often raised concerns about the reliability of the Bushehr nuclear power plant facility, which produces 1,000 megawatts of power, and the risk of radioactive leaks in case of a major earthquake.

Both Iran and Turkey sit on top of major tectonic plates and see frequent seismic activity.

In November 2017, a 7.3-magnitude quake in Iran’s western province of Kermanshah killed 620 people.

In 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake in southeastern Iran decimated the ancient mud-brick city of Bam and killed at least 31,000 people.

Iran’s deadliest quake was a 7.4-magnitude tremor in 1990 that killed 40,000 people in northern Iran, injured 300,000 and left half a million homeless.

Turkey is also prone to earthquakes and over 40 people died in January after a 6.8-magnitude quake struck Elazig in eastern Turkey.

In 2011, an earthquake measuring 7.1 hit Van, killing more than 500 people.

In 1999, a devastating 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Izmit in western Turkey, killing more than 17,000 people including about 1,000 in the country’s most populous city, Istanbul.