Another 6.3 million earthquake in Turkey, Syria causes panic

ANTAKYA, Turkey Feb 20 (Reuters) – A 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey near the Syrian border late on Monday.

Two Reuters reporters said the tremors were strong and sustained, damaging buildings and sending dust into the night air in the central city of Antakya, the epicenter. It was also felt in Egypt and Lebanon, Reuters reporters said.

The European Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC) said the tremor occurred at a shallow depth of 2 km (1.2 mi).

Police patrolled Andakya as ambulances rushed to the quake-hit area near the city centre. Two people fainted while others made emergency calls on cellphones in the streets surrounding Central Park.

After the latest quake, Reuters saw Turkish rescue teams running on foot to check on residents, most of whom had been living in makeshift tents since the tremors two weeks earlier.

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Muna Al Omar said he was in a tent in a park in central Antakya when the quake struck.

“I thought the earth would split under my feet,” she cried, holding her 7-year-old son in her arms.

“Will there be another aftershock?” she asked.

Two major earthquakes on February 6 also rocked neighboring Syria, leaving more than a million people homeless and killing more than the latest official count of 46,000 in both countries.

Smaller earthquakes have rocked the region in the past two weeks, but Monday’s quake was the largest since February 6.

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“It was very strong. It drove us out of our places,” said Burhan Abdelrahman, who was walking out of his tent in a camp in Antakya city center when the quake struck.

“I invited relatives from Syria, Adana, Mersin, Izmir, everywhere to visit them.”

Turkey’s disaster agency, AFAD, has urged residents to stay away from the Mediterranean coast because of the possibility of 50-centimeter water rises due to the quake.

Videos posted on social media, which were not verified by Reuters, showed passengers hiding in panic at Ananya airport as the quake shook the glass building.

Additional reporting by Ece Toksabay in Ankara; By Parisa Hafezi; Editing: Mark Heinrich, Alexander Smith and Jonathan Spicer

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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