Quake Hits Eastern Turkey; 58 Reported Dead; RMS Analysis

March 8, 2010

An earthquake, initially measured at magnitude 6.0, struck eastern Turkey early this morning, March 8, centered in the Province of Elazig. A report from Risk Management Solutions indicates that the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) placed the quake’s “fixed focal depth of 6.2 miles (10 km) and an epicentral location close to the village of Basyurt, 340 miles (550 km) east of the Turkish capital, Ankara.

“The USGS ‘ShakeMap’ shows the area close to the epicenter to have experienced ‘very strong’ shaking of intensity VII on the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale, where the potential for damage is moderate for resistant structures and moderate-to-heavy for vulnerable structures.

“The USGS estimates the population exposed to such shaking at 4,000. The eastern Turkey cities of Palu, Kovancilar and Karakocan (populations 11,000, 23,000 and 30, 000 respectively) experienced shaking of intensity VI on the MMI scale, where the potential for damage is light to moderate. A large proportion of the region of eastern Turkey experienced shaking of intensity III to IV.”

The latest news reports have put the death toll at 58, but the figure is expected to rise, as rescue workers reach the scene. RMS noted that the Turkish “Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of the Prime Ministry has announced a total of 20 casualties in the villages of Okçular, Yukarı Kanatlı and Kayalı. Early detailed damage reports are still scarce, but describe damage to property in the small villages of Okçular, Yukarı Kanatlı and Kayalı, close to the epicenter.”

In addition there have been “over 20 smaller aftershocks” since the original earthquake; according to the USGS the largest of these occurred at 07:47 UTC on Monday, 8 March, with a moment magnitude of 5.5.”

As RMS stated, there are “a number of significant faults in Turkey, and as a result, the country is prone to frequent earthquakes. In 1999, more than 18,000 people were killed in two devastating earthquakes in the country.”

Sources: news reports and Risk Management Solutions – www.rms.com

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