turkey earthquake february 20 2023
© Elif Ozturk Ozgoncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesResidents move to safety on the street after an earthquake in Hatay, Turkey, on Feb. 20.
It comes two weeks after three earthquakes killed over 40,000 in same area

Another earthquake struck the border region of Turkey and Syria on Monday, just two weeks after the area was devastated by a larger quake which killed more than 47,000 people and damaged or destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes.

Monday's quake, this time with a magnitude of 6.3, was centred near the southern Turkish city of Antakya and was felt in Syria, Egypt and Lebanon.

It struck at a depth of just two km (1.2 miles), the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said, potentially magnifying its impact at ground level.

Muna Al Omar said she was in a tent in a park in central Antakya when the latest quake hit.

'I thought the earth was going to split open under my feet,' she said, crying as she held her 7-year-old son in her arms.

Two witnesses reported a strong quake and further damage to buildings in central Antakya which was hit by two massive earthquakes two weeks ago, causing tens of thousands of deaths and destroying buildings and infrastructure.

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

Thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey have returned to their homes in northwest Syria to get in touch with relatives affected by the devastation.

At the Turkish Cilvegozu border crossing, hundreds of Syrians lined up starting early today to cross.

Mustafa Hannan, who dropped off his pregnant wife and 3-year-old son, said he saw about 350 people waiting.

The 27-year-old car electrician said his family was leaving for a few months after their home in Antakya collapsed, taking up a pledge by authorities allowing them to spend up to six months in Syria without losing the chance to return to Turkey.

"I'm worried they won't be allowed back," he said. "We've already been separated from our nation. Are we going to be separated from our families now too? If I rebuild here but they can't return, my life will be lost."

The latest earthquake comes after the mayor of Hatay yesterday said more than 21,000 people were confirmed dead in the southeastern province amid the brutal quakes two weeks ago - accounting for almost half the overall death toll of 46,000 people.

Lutfu Savas told local broadcaster HaberTurk that an additional 24,000 people had been injured, with makeshift medical facilities completely overwhelmed.

'At least 80 per cent of the buildings must be demolished in Antakya,' Savas said. Antakya is the capital of Hatay and the site of the ancient city of Antioch.

The number of confirmed deaths in Turkey due to the earthquake rose to 40,689, Yunus Sezer, head of the country's disaster agency AFAD, said. Roughly six thousand more people lost their lives across the border in Syria.

Sezer told journalists in Turkey's capital Ankara that search and rescue work in nine of the 11 provinces hit by the quake had ended as efforts focused on demolishing unstable buildings to prevent further deaths.

Hours earlier today, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on a visit to Turkey that Washington would help 'for as long as it takes' as rescue operations in the wake of the Feb. 6 earthquake and its aftershocks were winding down, and focus turned to towards urgent shelter and reconstruction work.

The death toll from the quakes two weeks ago rose to 41,156 in Turkey, the country's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority AFAD said on Monday, and it was expected to climb further, with 385,000 apartments known to have been destroyed or seriously damaged and many people still missing.

President Tayyip Erdogan said construction work on nearly 200,000 apartments in 11 earthquake-hit provinces of Turkey would begin next month.

Total U.S. humanitarian assistance to support the earthquake response in Turkey and Syria has reached $185 million, the U.S. State Department said.

Among the survivors of the earthquakes are about 356,000 pregnant women who urgently need access to health services, the U.N. sexual and reproductive health agency (UNFPA) has said.

They include 226,000 women in Turkey and 130,000 in Syria, about 38,800 of whom will deliver in the next month. Many of them were sheltering in camps or exposed to freezing temperatures and struggling to get food or clean water.

In Syria, already shattered by more than a decade of civil war, most deaths have been in the northwest, where the United Nations said 4,525 people were killed. The area is controlled by insurgents at war with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, complicating aid efforts.

Syrian officials say 1,414 people were killed in areas under the control of Assad's government.

Comment: Leave it to Israel to kick a country while it's down:

Israel 'ready to bomb Iranian aid deliveries to Syria' - report

Rescue operations are ongoing in Kahramanmaras, the site of the epicentre and Hatay 'We continue these efforts every day with the hope of reaching a living brother or sister,' he said.

But, there have been no signs of anyone being dug from the rubble alive since three members of one family - a mother, father and 12-year-old boy - were extracted from a collapsed building in Hatay on Saturday. The boy later died.

The death toll now sits at more than 46,000 across both Turkey and Syria, but the U.N. has said the full scope of the deaths may take time to determine.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in southern Turkey early this morning and set off on a tour of the earthquake disaster zone, including of Hatay, accompanied by his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Blinken is on his first trip to NATO ally Turkey since he took office two years ago and will visit a tent city in Hatay established for those displaced by the earthquake, before touring an aid distribution centre.

Read the rest here.