ADANA, Turkey — A powerful new earthquake shook southern Turkey and northwestern Syria on Monday evening, spreading panic among survivors and trapping people under more collapsed buildings only two weeks after a devastating double tremor nearby destroyed more than 100,000 buildings, killed more than 46,000 people and left more than a million homeless.
The 6.3-magnitude quake struck near the town of Uzunbag in Turkey’s Hatay Province just after 5 p.m. local time, according to the United States Geological Survey. The same province suffered widespread damage in the 7.8-magnitude quake that struck before dawn on Feb. 6, followed by a powerful 7.5-magnitude aftershock a few hours later.
The shaking on Monday spread terror across the quake zone, where many people, traumatized by the earlier disaster, are staying in tents and sleeping in their cars because they remain too scared to go inside any buildings.
The mayor of Hatay, Lutfu Safas, told the Turkish broadcaster NTV that some structures had collapsed, trapping people underneath.
“Unfortunately, we are receiving messages about people remaining under buildings,” he said, saying they had returned to their homes because they believed they were solid or to rescue their belongings.
At the Sheraton hotel in the city of Adana, where a number of buildings had collapsed in the initial quake, families crammed into elevators with their luggage to evacuate the building.
One woman suppressed sobs, trying to reach someone on her phone. Another guest began calling family members, urging them to leave the building.
“How will I ever go back to my building,” one woman muttered.
“I’m trembling. We are all traumatized,” said Asu Askit, the wife of the hotel’s owner. “I think I will stay in my car tonight.”
The authorities in Turkey warned residents of the quake zone to stay away from damaged structures, and the country’s national disaster management organization warned people in a tweet to stay away from the Mediterranean coastline, fearing that the sea level could rise as much as a half meter.
In Syria, people were hospitalized because of fear and after being hurt in stampedes as residents fled their buildings for open areas, the state-run news media reported. Residents of the coastal city of Tartous fled their homes, fearing a tsunami.
“We don’t have cars, we don’t have fuel and there are no taxis to escape to the countryside,” one resident wrote in a text message. “We don’t know where to go.”
In rebel-held territory along the Turkish border, the White Helmets, a local rescue organization, reported similar stampedes and said people had jumped from balconies to escape buildings. Many buildings damaged in the initial quake collapsed, the group said.
Serkan Topal, a Turkish lawmaker who was in Hatay during Monday’s earthquake, told Turkey’s Halk TV, “I am afraid there are casualties,” without specifying if he meant dead or wounded.
The new quake could exacerbate the challenge of providing shelter to survivors still in the area, he said.
“Now, we will need even more tents even more,” he said. “After this evening’s quake, no one will enter their houses. We need tents, tents.”
Hatay’s governor, Rahmi Dogan, told the state-run Anadolu news agency that the authorities were scanning the city for possible destruction and that residents had appealed for help.
Speaking to reporters in Ankara, the Turkish capital, Vice President Fuat Oktay said that eight people had been injured and warned residents of the quake zone to stay away from damaged buildings.
Turkey’s disaster management said this week that more than 6,000 aftershocks had hit the 11 provinces that make up the disaster zone in the days since the initial quakes of early February. A few dozen of them had a magnitude between 5 and 6.
Cora Engelbrecht reported from Adana, Turkey, and Ben Hubbard from Istanbul. Reporting was contributed by Raja Abdulrahim in Adana, Safak Timur, Gulsin Harman in Istanbul and Hwaida Saad in Beirut, Lebanon.