Magnitude 4.7 earthquake shakes eastern province of Van

Magnitude 4.7 earthquake shakes eastern province of Van

Continuing aftershocks have prompted people to flee quake-stricken Van, as seen in this photo of people at a bus station waiting to leave.

November 17, 2011, Thursday/ 15:17:00

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake occurred Thursday afternoon in Van province, which was hit by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake on Oct. 23 and another temblor measuring 5.2 on Nov. 9.

According to the website of the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute at Boğaziçi University, the earthquake occurred at 2:38 p.m. and its epicenter was in Van's village of Çolpan.

In addition to this recent quake in Van, a medium-intensity earthquake shook Muş province early on Thursday, causing some damage to houses and barns in two villages. According to the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute, the magnitude 4.5 quake occurred at 4:37 a.m., with its epicenter in the Varto district of Muş. It was followed by a moderate aftershock of magnitude 3.4. The earthquake damaged four houses in the village of Boylu in the Varto district, and two barns collapsed in the village of Gelintaş. No fatalities were reported.

These earthquakes raise the question of whether more earthquakes may occur in the eastern part of Turkey. A committee from the Turkish Union of Engineers and Architects' Chambers (TMMOB), under the supervision of Dr. Ahmet Ercan, released a report on the group's recent three-day survey of Van. Pointing out that new earthquakes are expected in the province, the report says that another large earthquake may occur soon in Van. The report also says: “The scientific examinations carried out in the region so far are insufficient. Further examinations and research should be conducted immediately because the preliminary examinations reveal that the eastern part of Turkey is still in danger of experiencing new earthquakes.” The report also notes that a well-equipped seismic research ship should begin geophysical research in Lake Van and that necessary precautions should be taken to prevent further loss of life in the region.

While experts are discussing the possibility of additional earthquakes in the region, the victims of the two previous quakes, who are struggling with severe winter weather in flimsy tents, face the risk of disease due to poor living conditions. A survey conducted by the Association of Public Health Experts (HASUDER) reveals that epidemics and diarrheal diseases may take hold in the earthquake zone due to a lack of proper toilet facilities and sanitation. The survey notes that the number of toilets and their drainage and hygiene are insufficient in the tent cities established to accommodate quake victims. There is high risk of fires and carbon monoxide poisoning in the tent cities due to the use of electric and coal-fired stoves for heat in the extremely cold, snowy weather.

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