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New 6.3-magnitude earthquake hits southern Turkey, setting off fresh fears

The earthquake came two weeks after the worst earthquake in the modern history of the region killed tens of thousands of people in Turkey and Syria.
/ Source: NBC News

A 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit the Syria-Turkey border Monday, Feb. 20, the U.S. Geological Survey said, two weeks after the region was devastated by an earthquake that killed more than 46,000 people.

Three people were killed and 213 were injured in Turkey, The Associated Press reported, citing the country’s interior minister, Suleyman Soylu. More than 130 people were injured in Syria, according to Syrian Civil Defense, a volunteer organization.

The earthquake was centered near the city of Uzunbağ in Turkey’s far south, near Syria and the Mediterranean Sea, according to the USGS. The Turkish government also reported the earthquake on its verified Twitter account.

Reuters reported that the shaking set off panic and damaged buildings in the nearby city of Antakya and that the earthquake was felt in Egypt and Lebanon.

The earthquake struck at about 8:04 p.m. local time, the USGS said.

“I thought the earth was going to split open under my feet,” Muna Al Omar, a resident of Antakya, told Reuters, crying as she held her 7-year-old son in her arms.

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

At least eight people were hospitalized in Turkey, Vice President Fuat Oktay said, according to The Associated Press.

Electricity was out in the Turkish coastal city of Iskenderun and some buildings collapsed there, Sky News Arabia reported, citing the city’s mayor.

Since the 7.8-magnitude earthquake on Feb. 6, thousands of less intense quakes have taken place in the region, according to the Turkish government.

Across the border, Syrian Civil Defense said on Twitter that people were injured from falling stone, stampedes or falls from buildings. Two uninhabited buildings collapsed in one city, and additional buildings cracked in multiple cities, the organization said.

In Aqrabat, Syria, children were evacuated from a hospital as a precaution despite near-freezing temperatures outside, according to video provided by UOSSM, a Syrian aid organization.

More than 1 million people have been left homeless by the earthquakes in the two countries, according to Reuters, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government is facing criticism over building practices that failed to prevent collapses.

Authorities are also battling threats to public health, including intestinal and upper respiratory infections, in the aftermath of the earthquakes.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken had visited Turkey a day earlier, announcing additional humanitarian aid Sunday that brought total U.S. earthquake assistance in Turkey and Syria to $185 million.

The United Nations has appealed worldwide for more than $1.4 billion for relief operations.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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