Australia sends assistance in global response to earthquake


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Australia will join the global response to a rare powerful earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria, with a promise of $10 million through humanitarian agencies.

The fast-rising death toll grew further on Tuesday to 3700, but the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that could increase eight-fold.

The New York Times reported that 3000 buildings crumbled in the huge force of the quake, with many flattening like pancakes as people slept.

Australia’s assistance will be administered through the Red Cross and humanitarian agencies.

The number of Australians affected remains unknown.

It’s reported that 3000 buildings collapsed in Turkey. Photo: Getty

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese conveyed Australia’s condolences, saying the nation was deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life and devastation unfolding.

“All of the world’s thoughts and condolences with the people in this region who are suffering at this time,” he said.

New Zealand will also provide $1.5 million.

It comes as the WHO warned rescuers were in a race against time to find survivors because of extreme weather conditions, including freezing temperatures, snow, rain and wind.

Why was the quake so deadly?

The first magnitude 7.8 quake in Turkey early on Monday (local time) brought down whole apartment blocks and piled more devastation on millions of Syrians displaced by years of war.

It was followed in the early afternoon by another large 7.7 quake and numerous strong aftershocks.

Usually, powerful earthquakes happen under the ocean, according to siesmologists, but this one happened on land near densely populated cities.

The epicentre was fairly shallow, happening just 18km below the earth’s surface.

The quality of building construction in Turkey and Syria is coming under scrutiny. Photo: Getty

It’s been reported that many buildings, especially in in older areas, where not constructed to withstand such shaking.

The Turkish city of Gaziantep, near the epicentre, was a boom city and concerns had reportedly been raised in the past about the quality of construction during the fast growth of the 90s and early 2000s.

Seismologists explain that the earthquake occurred along a fault line between the Anatolian and Arabian techtonic plates.

Jutting up against one another, the two plates slipped horizontally — known as a strike-slip quake.

The sliding motion — with one plate moving west while the other moved east — caused the earth to suddenly jerk as pressure was released.

The shaking in Turkey was felt for about two minutes.

A similar well-known fault that causes strike-slip earthquakes is California’s San Andreas fault that extends 1200km.

Police officer Zekeriya Yildiz hugs his daughter after she was saved from the rubble in Hatay. Photo: Getty

Seismologist Ross Stein told Scientific American that earthquakes of the magnitude of that in Turkey were rare — about a once in a century.

He said the number one reason behind the high fatality rate was building quality.

“I don’t know if the buildings that fell (in the recent quake) are older buildings or poorer buildings, so I’m not accusing anybody of anything,” he said.

“But this is the problem worldwide, not just in Turkey.”

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