10/23/2011 Turkey Quake

Updated 11/9/2011

Eastern Turkey was hit with a 7.2 M earthquake at 10:41 UTC (1:41 PM local time) 10/23/11. The Epicenter was 577 miles east of Ankara, 500 miles northwest of Tehran, Iran  and approximately 150 miles north of Mosul, Iraq. 600 people have been reported dead, over 1300 were injured, with many still missing. 2000 buildings collapsed in the quake. Another 3700 have been declared unfit for habitation. People are scared to return to their homes, for fear of the many aftershocks. There have been 1400 aftershocks with several of them greater than 5.5 M, strong enough to cause substantial damage. Temperatures are near freezing in the area and are expected to remain cold as winter sets in. An aftershock on October 25, caused panic and a riot in the Van prison as prisoners reacted to being kept indoors. A 5.7M aftershock on November 11 caused two hotels and 21 other buildings to collapse, killing 3 and injuring 100 people.

1,000 building were destroyed, including a part of a hospital in the city of Ecris, with a population of 75,000 on the shore of Lake Van, near the epicenter. Patients were being treated in the hospital's garden. Power and natural gas were knocked out for a couple of days in the city. Rescue teams arrived the day after the quake and have been hard at work digging victims from the rubble. 80 buildings collapsed in Ecris, most of them apartments buildings.  Some help arrived from neighboring countries. Turkey initially said that they were capable of responding on their own but after a couple of days they decided to accept international aid. 

In this area the Arabian Plate is pushing northward into the Eurasian Plate, raising the Caucasus mountains to the north. It is causing stress in the surrounding crust as it is squeezed between these two plates and the Anatolian Plate, which is itself being squeezed between the African and Eurasian Plates. There have been many earthquakes in this area, including the 1999 Izmet quake 600 miles to the west of this one. 17,000 people were killed in that quake.  The US Geological Survey (USGS) is an invaluable resource in understanding and tracking earthquakes. See the USGS summary of this quake.

See also the following news stories:

*279 reported dead in Turkey earthquake; 1300 more hurt (CNN 10/24/11)
*Turkey earthquake, survivors outdoors on freezing night(BBC 10/24/11)
*Death toll rises in Turkey quake (Voice of America 10/24/11)
*Turkish Earthquake: Aftershock  'sparks jail riot' 
*Earthquake hits eastern Turkey (Aljazeera 11/10/11)