5.8-magnitude earthquake shakes Istanbul, injures eight

Witnesses felt buildings shake in the city during the quake and said some offices and schools were temporarily evacuated. (File/AFP)
Updated 26 September 2019

5.8-magnitude earthquake shakes Istanbul, injures eight

  • Witnesses felt buildings shake in the city during the quake and said some offices and schools were temporarily evacuated
  • Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu wrote on his Twitter account that there were no immediate reports of damage or people hurt

ISTANBUL: A moderate 5.7 magnitude earthquake shook buildings and damaged two mosques in Istanbul on Thursday, slightly injuring eight people and causing residents to rush from buildings.

Witnesses in the city of 15 million, Turkey’s largest, felt buildings sway and said some offices and schools were temporarily evacuated. Three major seismic fault lines criss-cross Istanbul, which straddles Europe and Asia.

“The quake really shook at the start and then it continued, maybe it felt like that because the building is so tall,” said Ozge Etcan, 27, an employee at a financial firm in Istanbul’s Levent district, where crowds gathered outside in the aftermath.

The tremor was at a depth of 12.6 km, the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute said, locating its epicenter 70 km (44 miles) west of Istanbul in the Marmara Sea, south of the town of Silivri. It struck at 1:59 p.m. (1059 GMT).

Both the observatory and the US Geological Survey assessed its magnitude at 5.7.

“Despite this earthquake having a magnitude that could be considered serious, we have not as yet received heartbreaking news, just some small damage,” President Tayyip Erdogan told a news conference.

He said eight people had been treated for slight injuries, but did not provide further details.

The top section of a minaret had collapsed at the central mosque in Istanbul’s Avcilar district, close to the Marmara Sea, CNN Turk footage showed.

Another minaret collapsed in the Sariyer district of the city, the municipality’s disaster coordination center said.

“There will be aftershocks of this quake. What we ask from citizens is that they don’t enter damaged buildings,” Murat Nurlu, head of the earthquake department at Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD), told Reuters.

Some Buildings Damaged

Cracks emerged in some buildings across the city. Two of them in the Sultangazi and Eyup districts were damaged, AFAD said in a statement, clocking the quake at 5.8 magnitude.

Mobile phone users had difficulty making calls shortly after the quake. AFAD said work was continuing to resolve the problem in communications.

The epicenter was 22 km from the nearest inhabited area, Silivri, AFAD said. It said there had been 28 aftershocks, the strongest of which had a magnitude of 4.1.

The Istanbul governor’s office said primary and middle schools had been ordered shut for the remainder of the day.

In 1999, a quake measuring 7.6 struck the city of Izmit, 90 km southeast of Istanbul, killing more than 17,000 people.

Recep Kutuk, a 37-year-old civil servant, said he experienced two major earthquakes in the region in 1999 and this had made him sensitive to any tremor.

“It was really powerful. I hope this is not a precursor to another major earthquake,” he said.

Iraqi protesters shut roads to ports, oil fields

Updated 53 min 36 sec ago

Iraqi protesters shut roads to ports, oil fields

  • Basra saw protesters block access routes to the ports of Khor Al-Zubair and Umm Qasr, as well as Rumailah oil field

BAGHDAD: Anti-government demonstrators in southern Iraq shut roads to two major ports and a key oil field Wednesday, port officials and AFP correspondents said, leading to a brief operational halt.
Correspondent in oil-rich Basra province saw protesters block access routes to the ports of Khor Al-Zubair and Umm Qasr, as well as Rumailah oil field.
Trucks waiting to load up goods from the ports could be seen waiting empty behind crowds of demonstrators.
Khor Al-Zubair is used for some heavy crude exports but also to import fuel products like benzene, while Umm Qasr is the main entry point for food and medicine into Iraq.
“Export and import activities have stopped because trucks cannot enter Khor Al-Zubair or Umm Qasr ports,” one official at Basra’s port authority said.
A second official later said the route to Khor Al-Zubair had been reopened but Umm Qasr remained shut.
Sit-ins have become a go-to tactic for Iraqis demonstrating against their government since early October.
Protesters have shut the road to Umm Qasr several times, causing a delay in offloading operations that on one occasion forced around a dozen ships to unload their cargo in another country.
Road closures have also impacted heavy crude from the Qayyarah field in northern Iraq from reaching Khor Al-Zubair since earlier this month.
The prime minister’s office has warned security forces “will not allow” protesters near key infrastructure, and riot police have forced roads open in deadly crackdowns.
More than 330 people have been killed since rallies erupted on October 1 in Baghdad and across the south.
In the capital’s main protest camp of Tahrir (Liberation) Square, thousands gathered Wednesday to express their ongoing frustration.
Top leaders and political parties have focused their efforts on hiring drives, more welfare and a new electoral law as immediate measures.
Parliament met late Tuesday to discuss a draft voting law that proposes downsizing the house from 329 seats to 251, shrinking districts and distributing votes according to a complex hybrid system.
But the United Nations mission in Iraq (UNAMI) said the draft law needed more work.
“The draft electoral legislation — currently under review by the Council of Representatives — requires improvements to meet public demands,” it said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
UNAMI chief Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert urged lawmakers to pass legislation that “will reflect the public appetite for a new and different way of conducting politics.”
Protesters have so far been unimpressed by the government’s proposals and large crowds — most of them students — turned out on Wednesday.
“Last night’s session serves their own interests, not those of the people,” said Younes, a 28-year-old protester.
Crowds have spilled over from Tahrir onto three main bridges that lead to the western bank of the Tigris, where key government buildings and embassies are based.
On Tuesday night, they tried to cross two of the bridges to reach the so-called Green Zone but security forces deployed on the bridges fired tear gas to keep them back, a security source told AFP.