By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ISTANBUL (AA) - The 7.7 magnitude earthquake that hit Türkiye on Monday is “one of the largest inland earthquakes” in the world, an expert has said.
“It was an unexpected big earthquake,” said Professor Shinji Toda, underscoring the intensity of the earthquakes that hit southern Türkiye a day earlier, resulting in the death of more than 5,400 people.
“It is one of the largest inland earthquakes in the world,” said Toda, who is a professor at the International Research Institute of Disaster Science at Japan-based Tohoku University.
He told the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun that the earthquake “is thought to have been active over a wide area of about 150 km to 200 km west of the East Anatolian Fault Zone, which is known as an active fault.”
East Anatolian Fault Zone, said the professor, is a strike-slip fault located on the boundary between the Arabian Plate and the Anatolian Plate.
“In addition to the magnitude of the earthquake, the shallowness of the epicenter caused extensive damage,” the Japanese professor said in an interview published on Tuesday.
Toda said the “amount of energy” of the earthquake that hit the southern parts of Türkiye on Monday “is more than ten times that of the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake and the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake.”
The Great Hanshin earthquake, or Kobe earthquake, of 7.3 magnitude occurred on Jan. 17, 1995 in Japan’s southern Hyogo province, while the Kumamoto earthquakes were a series of earthquakes, including a magnitude 7.0 mainshock which struck April 16, 2016 beneath Kumamoto City of Kumamoto province in Japan’s Kyushu Region.
Türkiye has declared a three-month-long state of emergency in 10 provinces hit by earthquakes.
A 7.7 magnitude tremor early Monday struck the Pazarcik district of Kahramanmaras province -- the epicenter of the quakes, then about nine hours later, a 7.6 magnitude quake centered in Kahramanmaras’s Elbistan district rocked the region, affecting several other provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa.
The earthquake was also felt in several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon.
"We are facing one of the biggest disasters not only of the history of the Turkish Republic but also of our geography and the world," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
"Our biggest relief is that over 8,000 of our citizens have been rescued from the rubble so far," Erdogan said.
Türkiye also issued a level 4 alarm, which includes a call for international aid.
Earlier, Türkiye’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) had said the magnitude of the first earthquake was 7.4 but later revised it to 7.7.
AFAD said the quakes were followed by 243 aftershocks.
Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Diyarbakır, Adana, Adıyaman, Malatya, Osmaniye, Hatay, and Kilis provinces are heavily affected by the quake.