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Fresh devastation as magnitude 6.3 earthquake strikes Turkey-Syria border

A strong earthquake has brought fresh devastation and terror to Turkey, with reports of people trapped as buildings that survived the first quake disaster collapsed.

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck at a shallow depth of two kilometres near the Turkey-Syria border region late on Monday, the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre said.

It happened about 8.04pm (local time) and was felt in Turkey, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon.

The latest tremor comes just two weeks after the country’s worst earthquake in modern history killed more than 46,000 people in Turkey and Syria.

The BBC reports more people have become trapped under the rubble in Hatay, in southern Turkey.

Al Jazeera journalist Assed Baig said there were reports of more structures being destroyed as aftershocks continued.

“There are buildings that are standing but have been damaged. The fear is if there are more aftershocks like this, it could bring down those buildings, threatening lives,” Mr Baig told Al Jazeera.

“Many people here are very scared.”

Two Reuters witnesses reported a strong quake and further damage to buildings in central Antakya.

Other witnesses said Turkish rescue teams were running around after the latest quake, checking people were unharmed.

Muna Al Omar, a resident, said she was in a tent in a park in central Antakya when the earthquake hit.

“I thought the earth was going to split open under my feet,” she said, crying as she held her seven-year-old son in her arms.

“Is there going to be another aftershock?” she asked.

Buildings in Antakya, Turkey, after the first earthquake on February 6. Photo: Getty

Turkey has reportedly recorded more than 6000 aftershocks since the February 6 disaster. But the Monday quake was the largest.

“It was very strong. It jolted us out of our places,” said Burhan Abdelrahman, who was walking out of his tent in a camp in Antakya city centre when the earthquake struck.

“I called relatives in Syria, Adana, Mersin, Izmir, everywhere, to check on them.”.

Police patrolled Antakya while ambulances rushed to the quake-hit area near the city centre.

Reuters saw Turkish rescue teams running around on foot after the latest quake to check on residents, most of whom were living in temporary tents after the tremors two weeks ago.

Turkey’s disaster agency AFAD urged residents to stay away from the Mediterranean coast over a possible 50-centimetre rise in waters due to the quake.

Videos posted on social media, unverified by Reuters, showed passengers at Antakya airport taking cover in panic as the quake jolted the glass building.

Rescues wind down

The fresh quake shock came as rescue efforts were beginning to wind down.

Turkey has stepped up work to clear away rubble from collapsed buildings, with nearly 13,000 excavators, cranes, trucks and other industrial vehicles had been sent to the quake zone.

Some 385,000 apartments in the country known to have been destroyed or seriously damaged and many people still missing.

Among the survivors of the February 6 earthquakes in Turkey and Syria are about 356,000 pregnant women who urgently need access to reproductive health services, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency said at the weekend.

The women include 226,000 in Turkey and 130,000 in Syria, about 38,800 of whom will deliver in the next month.

Many of the women are sheltering in camps or are living exposed to freezing temperatures, and struggling to get food or clean water, putting their health at risk.

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said a convoy of 14 of its trucks had entered north-western Syria on Sunday to assist in earthquake rescue operations, as concerns grow over lack of access to the war-ravaged area.

The World Food Program has pressured authorities in that region of Syria to stop blocking access as it seeks to help hundreds of thousands of people in the wake of the earthquakes.

In Syria, already shattered by more than a decade of civil war, the bulk of fatalities have been in the northwest.

The area is controlled by insurgents at war with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, which has complicated efforts to get aid to people.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday (local time) announced further aid to Turkey and said the US would provide longer term help to Turkey Ankara as it sought to rebuild.

Mr Blinken arrived at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Force Base on Sunday for an official visit and discussions on how Washington can further assist.

Mr Blinken said the US would continue to help what he said would be “a long-term effort”.

“When you see the extent of the damage, the number of buildings, the number of apartments, the number of homes that have been destroyed, it is going to take a massive effort to rebuild but we are committed to supporting Turkey in that effort,” he said.

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