9 dead after magnitude 5.7 quake hits Turkey-Iran border area

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A man carries a wounded boy to an ambulance after an earthquake hit Baskale town in Van province Turkey, at the border with Iran on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. (IHA via AP)
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Houses are reduced to rubble after an earthquake hit Baskale town in Van province Turkey, at the border with Iran on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. (IHA via AP)
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Updated 24 February 2020

9 dead after magnitude 5.7 quake hits Turkey-Iran border area

  • The earthquake had a depth of 6 kilometers
  • Criss crossed by major fault lines, Iran and Turkey are among the most earthquake-prone countries in the world

ISTANBUL: A magnitude 5.7 earthquake in northwestern Iran on Sunday killed at least nine people in neighboring Turkey and injured dozens more on both sides of the border, authorities said.
The epicenter of the quake, which struck at 9:23 a.m., was near the Iranian village of Habash-e Olya, less than 10 km from the border, according to the US Geological Survey.
The earthquake had a depth of 6 km, said Tehran University’s Seismological Center.
In Turkey, it was felt mostly in the eastern district of Baskale in Van province on the Iran border.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said nine people were killed, speaking to reporters from the quake scene in Van. Four of the dead were children.
“We have right now no citizens trapped under the rubble,” he said.

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37 - people were injured in Turkey, nine of them were in critical condition, according to Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.

Images showed collapsed adobe houses in several snow-covered villages in Van province.
In Gurpinar village, search and rescue teams were seen on top of the rubble pile, watched by anxious locals.
Van, which was hit by a 7.1 magnitude quake in 2011 killing more than 500 people, was struck by tragedy again this month when two avalanches left 41 people dead.

It injured at least 51 people in Iran’s West Azerbaijan province, 17 of whom had been hospitalized, the country’s emergency services said.
The same source also said there was damage to buildings in 43 villages. Sunday’s earthquake was felt in several Iranian cities, including Khoy, Urmia, Salmas and Osku, state media reported, citing West Azerbaijan’s crisis management center.
Both Iran and Turkey sit on top of major tectonic plates and see frequent seismic activity.
In November 2017, a 7.3-magnitude quake in Iran’s western province of Kermanshah killed 620 people.

In 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake in southeastern Iran decimated the ancient mud-brick city of Bam and killed at least 31,000 people.
Iran’s deadliest quake was a 7.4-magnitude tremor in 1990 that killed 40,000 people in northern Iran, injured 300,000 and left half a million homeless.
In December and January, two earthquakes struck near Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant.
Iran’s Gulf Arab neighbors have often raised concerns about the reliability of the country’s sole nuclear power facility, which produces 1,000 megawatts of power, and the risk of radioactive leaks in case of a major earthquake.
Turkey is also prone to earthquakes and over 40 people died in January after a 6.8-magnitude quake struck Elazig in eastern Turkey.
In 1999, a devastating 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Izmit in western Turkey, killing more than 17,000 people including about 1,000 in the country’s most populous city, Istanbul.


Lebanon repatriates nationals in rare flights despite virus

Updated 22 min 48 sec ago

Lebanon repatriates nationals in rare flights despite virus

  • Health personnel in protective gear took the temperature of disembarking passengers
  • Authorities said more than 20,000 had signed up to be repatriated in total this week and at the end of the month

BEIRUT: Lebanon on Sunday started repatriating nationals stranded abroad in its first flight in weeks since it closed its international airport to stem the novel coronavirus.
The first of four planes touched down at the Beirut international airport late Sunday morning bringing in 78 passengers from Riyadh, local television reported.
It showed health personnel in protective gear taking the temperature of disembarking passengers.
The Mediterranean country announced a lockdown and closed its airport on March 18 as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has officially infected 527 people and killed 18 nationwide.
An AFP photographer saw a dozen buses outside the airport waiting to transport the passengers.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab had arrived earlier amid heavy deployment of the Lebanese army, he said.
Authorities said more than 20,000 had signed up to be repatriated in total this week and at the end of the month.
Lebanese carrier Middle East Airlines has said flights would also land in Beirut on Sunday from Abu Dhabi, Lagos and Abidjan.
It has also announced return trips to Paris, Madrid and Kinshasa on Tuesday.
Lebanese returning home must either test negative for the virus no longer than three days before their return, or be tested immediately upon arrival, according to government guidelines.
They must pay for their own ticket and their families are not allowed to meet them at the airport.
The government has said priority will be given to those with critical health conditions such as diabetes or cancer, those aged over 60 and under 18, and families.
But critics have complained of steep ticket fares, while a financial crisis has severely restricted transactions from Lebanese bank accounts.
Coronavirus is the latest crisis to hit Lebanon, which is already reeling under a crumbling economy.
Due to an acute liquidity crisis, banks have since September increasingly been restricting access to dollars and have halted money transfers abroad.
On Monday, however, the banking association agreed to allow dollar transfers to Lebanese students outside the country to help them face the coronavirus pandemic, the finance ministry said.
Diab on Sunday told reporters the government was studying the possibility of supporting returning Lebanese students with a ticket.
Lebanese expatriates and activists have clamoured online for MEA to lower the price of its tickets and help those who can’t afford it.
The airline on Friday claimed tickets were more expensive — $650 for an economy class seat from Riyadh and $1,800 for a cheaper fare from Abidjan for example — because planes would be empty on the way out to evacuations.