In the early hours of the morning of February 6, a powerful earthquake, measuring 7.8 in magnitude, struck south-eastern Turkey and parts of Syria, killing more than 19,000 people (the death toll is expected to keep rising). It was followed by a series of aftershocks, with a 6.7 magnitude aftershock just 11 minutes after the initial incident. The largest aftershock, which measured 7.5 in magnitude hit after 9 hours. Together, the earthquake and aftershocks have wreaked havoc across Turkey and Syria.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the main earthquake struck 23 kilometers east of Nurdagi, in Turkey’s Gaziantep province, at a depth of 24.1 kilometers. The 7.5 magnitude aftershock, which struck around 95 kilometers north of the initial quake, is believed to be the strongest of more than 100 aftershocks that have been recorded so far.
The deadly earthquake flattened more than 5,700 buildings, caused fires, and rendered thousands of people homeless. More than 19,000 people have been reportedly killed, and thousands of others have been injured. Many countries across the world have extended help, and many search and rescue teams are working day and night to rescue those stranded under debris and help the injured.
Why was the earthquake so deadly?
While similar magnitude earthquakes have hit in the past, the scale of the destruction and devastation of this one was greater. This can be attributed to many factors. Because the first earthquake took place at 4 am in the morning, people were inside their homes and in their beds, which made it difficult for them to respond in time. They got trapped in the rubble of their homes.
The sturdiness of the buildings is also a factor. The resistant infrastructure is patchy in South Turkey and especially in Syria which has been going through a civil war for many years.
Additionally, rescue operations have been impacted severely due to a wet and cold weather system moving through the region. The snow and scattered showers have not only dampened the spirit of the rescuers, but this has also put those trapped under debris, who have already gone without food and water for days, at risk of hypothermia.
Earthquakes in Costa Rica & How you can be prepared
Let’s take this disaster as a reminder of what earthquakes can do. Therefore, it is important to be prepared, both physically and mentally, in the unlikely event of an earthquake striking Costa Rica.
Lying along the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, Costa Rica is highly prone to seismic activity and is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world. Though earthquakes are mild most of the time, larger earthquakes are possible and can cause loss of life and property.
Earthquakes are an act of nature, and there is very little we can do about them. Our best weapon against earthquakes is to be prepared by knowing simple safety rules.
How to be prepared for an earthquake
- Assemble an emergency kit and learn the basics of first aid.
- Have a pair of shoes near your bed so that you do not have to run barefoot in case of an emergency. Shoes will protect you from sharp or broken objects lying on the ground.
- Learn the turn-off points for gas, water, and electricity in your house.
- Create an emergency plan with your family.
- If you live in an apartment, work with your building manager to create an evacuation plan.
- Identify safe places to take cover.
- Make sure you have a fire extinguisher and a battery-operated flashlight.
- Repair loose roof shingles.
- Secure major and heavy appliances to walls.
- Do not keep heavy objects at a height.
- Discuss your earthquake insurance with your company, and check your coverage.
- Practice how to ‘drop, cover, and hold on’.
- Have a kit ready for essential supplies like food, snacks, and water. You don’t know when things might get back to normal.
What to do during an earthquake
If you are indoors
- Stay calm and stay inside. Do not get in a doorway, as there will be no protection from flying or falling objects. You may not even be able to stand.
- Stay away from windows or outside doors.
- Don’t use matches, candles, or any other flame. There may be broken gas lines.
- Drop, cover, and hold on
Drop – Drop down to the ground so that the earthquake doesn’t knock you down. Take shelter under heavy furniture such as a table, bed, desk, etc.
Cover – Cover your head and neck with your arms to protect yourself from falling debris.
Hold on – Hold on to the object you are under so that you remain covered.
- If you can’t get under anything, lie flat on the ground and cover your head and neck with your arms.
- Don’t use elevators, they might stop working.
If you are outdoors
- Stay outside.
- Go to an open area away from the buildings, streetlights, and power lines.
- If you are in a crowded place, take cover at a place where you won’t be trampled.
If you are in a vehicle
- Stay inside.
- Pull over to a place where you are not blocking the road. The road should be clear for emergency and rescue vehicles.
- Stay away from bridges, underpasses, overpasses, buildings, streetlights, power lines, or anything else that may collapse.
- Listen to the radio for instructions.
- If you are stuck, wait for help to arrive. If possible, place a ‘Help’ sign on your window.
What to do after an earthquake
- Stay calm. Be prepared for aftershocks.
- In case you are trapped, try calling or texting for help.
- Do not call anyone unless it’s very important. Text instead. Help keep the lines clear for those who need immediate attention.
- Check everyone near you for injuries. Provide first aid if needed.
- Monitor the media for updates and instructions.
- Check your house for damage. Take pictures in case there is any damage to show to the insurance company.
- Stay away from damaged buildings, electrical lines, or other damaged areas.
While the earthquake may be inevitable, disaster is not. With preparation and determination, we can prevent an earthquake from becoming a disaster. Make sure you are ready for the next earthquake. Start preparing today!
Tico Times offers deep condolences to the families of those deceived. We sincerely pray for the well-being of those trapped under the wreckage. Wishing you peace, comfort, courage, and lots of love at this time of sorrow.
If you are reading this from Costa Rica and would like to make a humble donation to the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Costa Rica, below are the BAC account details as shared by the embassy –
BAC Account: 949150882