Satellite images show Turkey earthquake cracks across hundreds of kilometres

Dramatic pictures show ruptures in fields and buildings along fault lines

A satellite image shows the fault line before an earthquake in Nurdagi, Turkey, September 6, 2019 and after on February 7, 2023. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Satellite images have shown how the ground cracked open as a result of the earthquake in Turkey and neighbouring Syria.

The 7.8-magnitude quake on February 6 razed thousands of buildings, killing more than 38,000 in Turkey and 5,800 in Syria.

Images from space, released by Maxar Technologies, show how land along the fault line was split apart.

The earthquakes opened two enormous cracks in the Earth's surface, the longer of which stretches about 300km across southern Turkey. Splits appeared across fields and roads, moving buildings by metres in either direction.

In the south-eastern Turkish city of Nurdagi, about 56km from the quake’s epicentre, few buildings were left untouched, with most destroyed or heavily damaged.

Before-and-after images of the nearby countryside, above, show grasslands and highways split in two.

Land on either side of the ruptures moved in opposite directions up to seven metres in some locations, according to data from the California Institute of Technology, Reuters reported.

Villages and small towns directly above the fault line suffered some of the most severe shaking.

Satellite images from Altinuzum, a town in Islahiye district of Turkey's Gaziantep Province, shows scarred landscape, with green fields and buildings splintered by tremors.

A satellite image shows buildings and a fault line before an earthquake in Altinuzum, Turkey, on February 27, 2022, and February 7, 2023. Reuters

A Reuters analysis of population estimates shows that the settlements built near the fault zone tended to have higher populations the closer they were to the rupture.

Many of the deaths caused by building collapses happened in larger cities, not near fault lines, data showed.

Margarita Segou, a seismologist with the British Geological Survey, said it was safer to build on mountainous rock than the soft soil of the plains, which tends to amplify ground motion.

Susan Hough, a seismologist at the US Geological Survey, said people often lived next to fault zones for resource reasons.

“If you are living along the base of the mountains, there may be more water there,” she said.

Lands cracked by earthquake in Turkey - in pictures

In Demirkopru, a village in the hard-hit Hatay Province, pictures taken after the disaster show lopsided houses and broken pavements.

No one died in the village, situated 20km from the ancient city of Antakya, though some of its 1,000 residents were injured.

“The houses sank four metres,” Mahir Karatas, a 42-year-old farmer, told AFP. “The ground went up and down.”

In Tevekkeli, in Turkey's southern province of Kahramanmaras, huge boulders tumbled down hillsides and on to roads.

Mehmet Temizkan said the tremors woke him in the early hours of Monday morning.


“With the initial panic, nobody knew whether we could leave home or whether we could survive. We lost hope. In the morning, when we saw what happened here, we said this must be the epicentre,” he told Reuters.

In Antakya, residents said water rose from below ground then stagnated. An ornately paved road was destroyed.

“Here, it became like an island,” Murat Yar, a 38-year-old roofer, told AFP.

“It went up, down, up, down, and then it slid down 30 metres. We saw water and sand gushing out.”

Residents were able to “jump out from the windows of their one and two-storey homes”, he said.

Turkey-Syria border region struck by new 6.4-magnitude quake

Turkey-Syria border region struck by new 6.4-magnitude quake
Turkey-Syria border region struck by new 6.4-magnitude quake
Updated: February 21, 2023, 1:07 PM