Armenian church in Iskenderun was damaged by Turkey earthquake

Turkey Earthquake: Deadly New Tremor Traps People under Rubble


ISTANBUL (Combined Sources) — Rescuers are once again searching for people trapped under rubble in Turkey after another earthquake hit the country on Monday, February 20, killing at least six people.

A 6.4 magnitude tremor struck near the city of Antakya near the border with Syria, where massive quakes had devastated both countries on February 6.

The earlier quakes killed 44,000 people in Turkey and Syria with tens of thousands more left homeless.

Buildings weakened by those tremors collapsed in both countries on Monday.

The health minister, Dr. Fahrettin Koca, said 294 people have been injured, 18 of them seriously.

It’s thought the death toll has been relatively low this time because the earthquake struck in an area that was largely empty after it was badly hit.

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Reports from the city of Antakya spoke of fear and panic in the streets as ambulances and rescue crews tried to reach the worst affected areas where the walls of badly damaged buildings had collapsed.

“I thought the earth was going to split open under my feet,” local resident Muna al-Omar told Reuters news agency, crying as she held her seven-year-old son. She had been in a tent in a park in the city centre when the new earthquakes hit.

Ali Mazlum, 18, told AFP news agency he had been looking for the bodies of family members from the previous earthquakes when the latest tremors hit.

“You don’t know what to do… we grabbed each other and right in front of us, the walls started to fall,” he said.

In a visit to the southern province of Osmaniye, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan promised to hold to account anyone responsible for shoddy construction that led to deaths in the initial earthquake a fortnight ago.

“It is our duty to hold the wrongdoers accountable before the law,” he said.

Shortly after the earthquake, officials issued more than 100 arrest warrants in connection with the construction of buildings that collapsed in the quake, a move that some saw as an attempt to divert overall blame for the disaster.

Armenian church in Iskenderun was damaged by Turkey earthquake

Antakya, the capital of Turkey’s Hatay Province, was one of the places hit most severely by the February 6 earthquake

In the city of Adana, the latest earthquake drove people to a volleyball center that had been converted into a rescue center following the first earthquake.

The authorities have told the BBC they believe as many as 600 people may have arrived overnight — seeking a sturdy, ground-level building in which to take shelter.

When the quake struck, people were reported to have run out into the streets rather than staying put, reflecting the fact that there is still significant fear two weeks after the initial disaster.

In Syria, some 470 injured people are said to have visited hospitals after Monday’s quakes, which were also reportedly felt in Egypt and Lebanon.

In a visit to Turkey on Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced $100 million (£83m) in humanitarian aid, saying that America would help with earthquake recovery “for as long as it takes”.

Armenian Community

The Armenian-populated Kessab Armenian Church of Saint Astvatsatsin in Syria was again damaged as a result of the earthquake on February 20. This is reported in the article published by Gandzasar daily.

Surb Astvatsatsin church, already damaged by the February 6 earthquake, has been damaged again, the newspaper reported.

In addition, the only remaining Armenian village in Turkey – Vakifli – suffered extensive damages in the latest earthquakes that hit Turkey Monday.

The Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople said no deaths occurred in the village but buildings suffered heavy damages. The Holy Mother of God Armenian church in the village was also damaged.

Two more Armenians died as a result of the devastating earthquake in Turkey, according to Gandzasar.

Armenian church in Iskenderun was damaged by Turkey earthquake

“Berc Kartun, the head of Vakif[li] village of Mount Musa, confirms that two Mount Musa residents were killed. They died in other cities. Villagers spend the night in tents and near canteens. The aftershocks are strong, and nobody wants to stay at home,” the post says.

And according to the information provided Thursday by the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs of Armenia, the official number of Armenians killed in Turkey is nine, and two Armenians have died in Syria as a result of this tremor.

There are damaged Armenian holy places, too, as a result of the earthquake in Turkey. Ara Kocunyan, the Chief Editor of Jamanak Armenian daily of Istanbul, reported.

“The churches in Sebastia [(Sivas)] and Diyarbakir were not damaged. The Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator in Caesarea [(Kayseri)] is also safe. The church of the Armenian Vakifli village of Musa Dagh was also spared. The  Church of Holy Forty Children in Iskenderun region was seriously damaged, the Latin church of the same village completely collapsed, the Greek church also suffered serious damages,” said Kocunyan.

He added that all the Armenians of these regions have suffered serious damages, which have not been assessed yet.

Earlier, Armenian reported that two Armenians — a woman and her son — were killed and two Armenians were injured in Aleppo, Syria, as a result of the earthquake.

The Armenians of Turkey have donated 5.5 million lira (around $290,000) in aid to earthquake relief efforts, according to the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul, Archbishop Sahak Mashalian, reports.

Mashalian offered remarks after Sunday mass served on the eve of Great Lent at the Armenian Saint Vardanants Church in Feriköy, Sisli.

The Patriarch stressed the need for humanism in trying times. Speaking about sending humanitarian aid to the disaster area, he emphasized that the Patriarchate collected and sent aid on the second day of the disaster.

The Union of Armenian Foundations handed over 2.5 million lira in aid to Turkey’s disaster and emergency department, while foundations and individuals representing the country’s Armenian community collected and donated 3 million lira.


(BBC News, Armenpress, and contributed to this report.)


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