Snow and sub-zero temperatures have piled on the misery in eastern Turkey for residents still reeling from the effects of two major earthquakes.
On Tuesday, a 5.2 magnitude quake struck the Edremit district, 16 kilometres south of Van. Around 25 buildings collapsed, including a six-storey hotel. Rescue workers say that around 100 people are unaccounted for and the official death toll is above 30.
Those made homeless by this event joined the many thousands already forced to live under canvas after their homes were raised to the ground by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake which struck the same region on October 23rd. At least 644 people were killed in that quake and some 2,000 buildings were destroyed, leaving many thousands homeless.
Weather conditions have deteriorated over the last few days as a low pressure system has moved through the eastern Mediterranean. Temperatures have fallen well below freezing and the combination of low temperatures and brisk winds has made for a big wind-chill.
Aid organizations have supplied more than 2,000 tents, 7,500 blankets and 100 stoves as a ‘tent city’ has been established at a stadium in the city of Ercis.
Tuesday’s tremor was the largest of some 500 aftershocks following the October earthquake.
The region is no stranger to major earth movements. The country is part of the Alpine Belt and activity results from the collision of the African and Eurasian plates, causing the Anatolian Plate, on which the region sits, to be squeezed towards the west.
In 1939 an earthquake in the same region, centred on Erzincan, caused around 160,000 deaths.
There is no sign of any significant improvement in weather conditions across the region before the end of the weekend. Further snow is likely and daytime temperatures are unlikely to reach no higher than 3 or 4 degrees Celsius. Nighttime temperatures are predicted to fall well below freezing.