Powerful quake hits eastern Turkey, four dead

Rescuers are seen outside a collapsed building after an earthquake in Elazig, Turkey. (Reuters)
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Updated 25 January 2020

Powerful quake hits eastern Turkey, four dead

  • Rescue teams were being sent to the scene of the quake, which had its epicenter in the small lakeside town of Sivrice
  • The tremor was felt in several parts of eastern Turkey near the Iraqi and Syrian borders

ISTANBUL: A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 hit eastern Turkey on Friday, killing at least 21 people, causing buildings to collapse and sending panicked residents rushing into the street.
Rescue teams were being sent to the scene of the quake, which had its epicenter in the small lakeside town of Sivrice in the eastern province of Elazig.
“It was very scary, furniture fell on top of us. We rushed outside,” 47-year-old Melahat Can, who lives in the provincial capital of Elazig, told AFP.
“We will spend the coming days in a farmhouse outside the city,” she said.
The Turkish government’s disaster and emergency management agency said the quake hit Sivrice at around 8.55 p.m. (1755 GMT).
The US Geological Survey assessed its magnitude at 6.7, and said it had a depth of 10 kilometers (about six miles).
Turkish television showed images of people stuck in apartments rushing outside in panic, as well as a fire on the roof of one building.
“Sivrice was shaken very seriously, we have directed our rescue teams to the region,” Soylu, who is due to go to the affected area, told reporters.
Sivrice — a town with a population of about 4,000 population — is situated south of Elazig city on the shores of Hazar lake — one of the most popular tourist spots in the region.
The lake is home to a “Sunken City,” with archaeologists finding archaeological traces dating back 4,000 years in its waters.
The tremor was felt in several parts of eastern Turkey near the Iraqi and Syrian borders, the Turkish broadcaster NTV reported, adding that neighboring cities had mobilized rescue teams for the quake area.
“We have sent four teams to the quake region,” Recep Salci of Turkey’s Search and Rescue Association (AKUT) told AFP.
“We have news of collapsed buildings, and are preparing more teams in case of need.”
Zekeriya Gunes, 68, a resident of Elazig city, said a building 200 meters down on his street had collapsed but he did not know whether it was inhabited.
“Everybody is in the street, it was very powerful, very scary,” he said.
Ferda, 39, said she felt worried and desperate.
“It lasted quite long, maybe 30 seconds,” she told AFP. “I panicked and was undecided whether to go out in this cold or remain inside.”
Turkey lies on major faultlines and is prone to earthquakes.
In 1999, a devastating 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Izmit in western Turkey, leaving more than 17,000 people dead including about 1,000 in the country’s largest city Istanbul.
In September, a 5.7-magnitude earthquake shook Istanbul, causing residents to flee buildings in the economic capital.
Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate the city of 15 million people, which has allowed widespread building without safety precautions.


UN hosts Muslim World League conference on protecting youth from extremism

Updated 19 February 2020

UN hosts Muslim World League conference on protecting youth from extremism

  • MPs, parliament speakers, UN ambassadors, an elite of religious and ideological leaders in attendance

GENEVA: Muslim World League (MWL) Secretary-General Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa launched the initiatives of “youth protection from extremist and violent ideas and implementation mechanisms” during an international conference organized at the UN headquarters in Geneva.

MPs, parliament speakers, UN ambassadors, an elite of religious and ideological leaders and academics specialized in the topics of conference were in attendance.

Al-Issa said the initiatives aim at protecting the youth from violent and extremist ideologies or those inciting violence, and shed light on the responsibility of educational institutions in this context.

This would be achieved, he said, through the establishment of school curricula with “interactive activities” that focus on discussing the differences, diversity and pluralism in our world. 

They also aim to reaffirm that religious, ethnic and ideological clashes are a danger to world peace.

Al-Issa stressed the need to filter speeches targeting the youth from all that incites conflicts, hatred, racism and enmity, with the principle of human equality and understanding and respecting natural differences and diversity as an important foundation for countries and societies’ peace and harmony. 

He also noted the importance of spreading tolerance and rejecting the disadvantages of hate, racism and marginalization.

He said: “It is important to ban the exportation or importation of fatwas and religious ideas, for the religious awareness is flexible, and takes into consideration the changes of fatwas and religious sermons in line with the time, place and circumstances,” adding that extremism is not acceptable in any circumstance.

Egypt’s Minister of Endowments Dr. Mohammed Mokhtar Jomaa stressed during the conference that terrorism has become more dangerous than today’s diseases, as it has become easier to spread than any virus.  

“Individuals, countries and organizations must all work together on a purely humanitarian ground, for there is no development, prosperity, advancement or economy without security, and no security with terrorism and no terrorism eradication without protecting the youth from extremism,” he said.