Natural disasters refer to the damage caused by inevitable natural phenomena such as typhoons, floods, storms, tsunamis, heavy snow, droughts, and earthquakes. Among them, an earthquake is a phenomenon in which a huge rock in the ground is suddenly cracked due to global force, and the ground shakes from the impact. The interior of the Earth consists of an outer core, an inner core, a mantle, and a crust. Among them, the mantle is solid and has fluidity. Therefore, in the mantle, convection activity occurs due to the temperature difference between the upper and lower parts of the mantle, causing the crust to move.
The crust consists of 10 to 12 plates. These plates are slowly moved more than tens of centimeters a year by the mantle convection inside the Earth, striking or overlapping each other. In this process, when force accumulates inside the plate and forces the crust, exceeding the elastic limit (the range of force that returns to its original state when an object transformed by an external force removes the force), the weak part is instantly destroyed and an earthquake occurs.
Türkiye Earthquake: Cause, Damage, and Relief Aid
At around 4:17 a.m. on February 5, 2023, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck 37 km northwest of Gaziantep, Türkiye. Nine hours later, a 7.5-magnitude second earthquake struck 108 km north of Gaziantep, Türkiye. There have been thousands of aftershocks since then. The Türkiye region has geographical conditions in which more than four major tectonic plates (Arabia, Eurasia, India and Africa) and the small Anatolian plates meet. The area is prone to strong earthquakes due to collisions of plates, creating the Northern Anatolia Fault and the Eastern Anatolia Fault.
The earthquake occurred on the eastern Anatolia fault, where the Arabian and Anatolian plates meet. Since there has been no earthquake activity for a while, the intensity of the earthquake was increased due to the accumulation of energy and then the eruption. Not only large-scale earthquakes but also shallow depth earthquakes are cited as the cause of the great damage that occurred in Türkiye.
The earthquake killed more than 50,000 people, injured at least 110,000 and displaced more than 23 million people. Even now, many people are fighting against cold, hunger, and aftershocks in poor tent villages. As it takes a lot of time to rebuild the affected area, there are concerns about the lack of hygiene facilities and water, as well as secondary damage such as carcinogens and infectious diseases that occur in the process of demolishing the building. As such, the level of physical damage as well as human damage is serious. The World Bank (WB) estimates that physical damage exceeds $34.2 billion in Turkey alone (45 trillion won in Korean money). This is about 4% of Turkiye's GDP in 2021. However, a huge disaster that cannot be helped by human power has paradoxically united mankind. As two strong earthquakes hit Türkiye and Syria, causing massive human and material damage, the international community offered a helping hand regardless of ethnic, religious and political positions. At least 105 countries and 16 international organizations immediately dispatched rescue teams and delivered relief supplies as soon as possible. Greece, expressed its unconditional support to Türkiye and dispatched large-scale groups of rescue workers. Armenia, which has been at odds with Türkiye for more than 100 years, opened its border for the first time in 35 years so that relief supplies can be delivered to Türkiye. Israel, which has quarreled with Türkiye over the issue of Palestin and restored diplomatic relations only in August last year, said they would strengthen bilateral cooperation in the wake of the earthquake, including the resumption of direct flights to Türkiye. Korea also sent 118 emergency relief teams, the largest ever, to Türkiye, the "Brother's Country," to rescue eight survivors from the rubble. People in Türkiye call Korea "kan kardesi" and Khan means "blood" and Kardesh means "brother." In Korean, it means "bloody brothers." It can be said that the friendly relationship between Korea and Türkiye began with the Korean War, and became stronger through economic development and the 2002 World Cup.
The Possibility of Earthquakes in Korea
Earthquakes can occur in Korea due to collisions between the Indian and Eurasian plates and the Pacific and Philippine plates sinking below the Eurasian plates. Korea is located on the Eurasian Plate, so there are relatively less earthquakes, but it is necessary to be aware of the risk of earthquakes as 35 earthquakes occur annually and large-scale earthquakes have been observed historically. According to the Ministry of Public Administration and Security's "Report on the Investigation and Evaluation of Korean Peninsula Fault Structures," fault activity was analyzed for the first time in Korea in 2022. Including the active faults surveyed by the Ministry of Science and ICT, there are 16 active faults in the southeastern region of the Korean Peninsula. Although it is not at the border of the plate, Korea cannot relax.
Evacuation Tips for Earthquakes
So how should we behave in the event of a sudden earthquake? First, you must go under a strong table and protect yourself because the timeframe for the greatest shaking in an earthquake is one to two minutes at most. If there is no place to take cover, such as under the table, you should protect your head with a cushion. In addition, if the shaking stops, it is recommended not to panic and to block gas and electric lights in case of a fire, and then open the door to secure an exit. Next, when you leave home, it is important to wear shoes and move. You may hurt your feet due to pieces of glass or objects that are broken apart, so you should wear shoes that can protect your feet. In addition, the elevator can stop in the event of an earthquake, so you must use stairs instead of elevators to move out of the building. If you come out of the building, walls and windows can be damaged and injured, so you should evacuate as far away as possible from the building and any fences while protecting your head with your bag or hands. If you have evacuated to a large space that has no risk of falling objects, you need to calm down and respond correctly. Evacuation messages should be kept in order according to their guidance. Groundless rumors may spread immediately after the earthquake, so you should act according to the information provided by the radio or government announcements. Earthquakes are natural disasters that you don't know when, where, and how big they will occur, but it is important to accumulate the right knowledge of earthquakes and respond calmly according to the situation, and not to think of earthquakes as “other people's business”.