Damaging Shallow Very Strong earthquake hits the Simav, Turkey area

On May 19, 2011 a very strong earthquake occurred in the greater Simav / Kutahya area. Earthquake-Report calls this earthquake extremely dangerous for damage, injuries and even fatalities. All theoretical models are resulting in a potentially bad outcome (some killed people). Early reports from the Kütahya governor are speaking of killed people = 3 dead and 94 injured.
We thank our Turkish readers who have send their Felt Experiences.
To read the full story of this earthquake, please start at the bottom of the page.
Read also 1 : Understanding the Simav / Kütahya May 19 earthquake (Turkey)
Read also 2 : May 19 Turkey earthquake : 2,208 houses uninhabitable + $260 million economic loss

Landscape and housing types in the epicenter area - Panoramio picture by Uzm. Ogrt Murat MET - http://www.panoramio.com/photo/36127174

UPDATE 23/05/2011 15:09 UTC : It has been found by the onsite engineers doing rapid assessment of the buildings that 2208 houses are uninhabitable AND 3373 are damaged but habitable of the 16448 checked so far. This is a large percentage!

2 million TL has been spent on relief so far in addition to the coordination of the presidency in a statement after the earthquake in Kütahya, in Istanbul, Izmir, Bursa, Afyon, Kütahya and Usak provinces, a total of 343 search and rescue region, Health and Red Crescent personnel, 83 vehicles, including 50 ambulances and 5 search dogs had been sent. In addition, by the Red Crescent, 2013 tents, 10000 blankets, 2292 water supplies, 2 portable kitchens, 3 S-3 1, 5 mobile catering trucks were sent.

It is estimated that only 15% of the inhabitants have insurance 🙁 May we remind turkish readers that the TCIP in nearly all cases makes sense!

On this scale of building loss, the total economic loss from the earthquake could be in the order of $260 million assuming building loss contributes to 40-50% of the total loss. (Assumes severities of 45k-50k for uninhabitable, and 10k for habitable but damaged.)

UPDATE 16:36 UTC : Felt Reports from our Turkish readers :
Izmir : It felt as though the table wobbled sideways, enough to  alarm me but I wasn't sure if it was an Izmir mini-quake or me having a light-headed moment! It was followed by about 10 minutes of strong winds which subsided, so I decided it must have been a mini-quake. MMI II-III (weak shaking)
Istanbul : I'm in Istanbul. Yes, the earthquake has been felt in Istanbul.
Istanbul : i was lying on bed watching TV, then i felt my bed was shaking, paused the video and searched earthquake istanbul during the earthquake. It was long but not very strong
Ankara : Our bed was shaking in the early hours of the mornin MMI II-III (weak shaking)
Karamürsel Kocaeli : It took about 15 seconds here 200 km away from epicenter.. Aas i have experienced many quakes from past ı knew ıt was far and strong one.. It started slowly, then stopped, and agaın started more stronger wıth clear shakıng.. Doors and windows shake, lamps shake, but no noıce... I notıce also water ın aquarıum made waves ... MMI II-III (weak shaking)
Bogazici village, Tuzla lake : Tremor lasted only a couple of seconds, light objects moved.  Hairline cracks in wall plaster which I had not noticed before MMI II-III (weak shaking)

UPDATE 15:36 UTC : The video below gives an impression on the damage in Simav.  The lower than expected magnitude (5.7 istead of 5.9) and the deeper than initially calculated depth of the hypocenter (23 km instead of 10 km)  have resulted in far less damage than similar magnitude earthquakes in the past.
Nevertheless, a lot of people were injured and 3 people were unfortunately killed.

UPDATE 06:36 UTC :
According to Kandilli Observatory, there was a 3.8 magnitude foreshock 16 minutes before the mainshock at shallow depth which would have been felt by most of the inhabitants of Simav.
Setting:- Ml5.9, at 7.6km depth. Epicenter (39.1520, 29.0882), Western Turkey, near city of Simav.
Casualties:- 3 killed, 1 seriously injured, 93 injured.
Halil Duman (63), Recep Akalın (73) and Hüseyin Oran (18) were killed. The first two people were killed by heart attack and the 3rd by a fallen beam. We assume that the younger person could also be the one who people are reporting died after jumping out of a window in panic (as reported by Minister Eroglu in Simav) however more information is required.
An elderly woman died of a heart attack in another town, Inegol, authorities said (we presume this is Recep Akalin, aged 73).
79 people injured including some who suffered injuries after jumping from balconies and windows and those who suffered from heart attacks or panic-related shock, were taken to hospitals in Simav according to NZ reports quoting Eroglu.
Fifteen others were treated at hospitals in the neighbouring province of Usak.

Damage and other reports.
The Red Crescent, the Muslim equivalent of the Red Cross, reported that the following damage and reports:-
1) partly collapsed two empty buildings in Simav, along with a five-story building and a mosque.
2) The alleged leak in a cyanide pool (which occurred before the earthquake) has not worsened and continues to be contained.

The largest aftershock has been 4.6, as compared to the mainshock magnitude of 5.9.
"It was so strong that we could not even move in the first few seconds," a local told NTV (a Turkish news network).
Red Crescent has also been busy helping people with food and shelter. Many residents spent the rest of the night in their cars or in the streets as authorities cautioned them against re-entering their homes. The quake was felt as far as the Aegean city of Izmir, the northwestern city of Bursa, Istanbul and the city of Edirne, close to the Greek and Bulgarian borders.

UPDATE 06:21 UTC : It is a university town and many students are returning to other parts of Turkey to avoid the devastation and constant aftershocks.

UPDATE 06:20 UTC : Electricity and phone communication is out and university buildings were destroyed and some other buildings were also destroyed. Much damage can be found around Kütahya Simav. Emergency crews are currently still there. There have been 450 aftershocks recorded during the night and early morning.

UPDATE 06:19 UTC : From the videos and pictures we have seen much soft storey collapse, where the 1st storey is built slightly higher than the other floors and is not strong enough to support the other floors. This will also be a potential problem for a Marmara Sea earthquake.

UPDATE 06:18 UTC : As stated, at the start of our broadcast last night, the Kandilli observatory website went down with all the people trying to find out information. For future earthquakes this will need to be improved. People then went to the phones trying to find out where the earthquake epicenter was.

UPDATE 05:14 UTC : Halil Duman (63), Recep Akalın (73) and Hüseyin Oran (18) were killed. The first two people were killed by heart attack and the 3rd by a fallen beam. In addition there have been 79 injuries, according to officials including the governor and also the environment minister. The 4th death is not found at this point in time. Our hearts go out to the families of the affected.

UPDATE 04:52 UTC : At least 4 people killed and 100 injured (send in by somebody of the epicenter area). These numbers may increase the following hours. MMI VI checked (strong shaking)

UPDATE 00:35 UTC : Tens of aftershocks have been recorded since the mainshock at 23:15 (local time)

UPDATE 00:33 UTC : The Turkish seismological service has reported a depth of  24 km and a magnitude of 5.7. These data are a lot better than the initial USGS data 5 km depth / Magnitude 6.0.

UPDATE 00:10 UTC : The Turkish press is always talking about the Simav/Katahya earthquake, although the 2 major cities in this are 61 km distance from each other.  A lot of smaller villages are within these limits.

UPDATE 00:05 UTC : We expect only reliable reports on damage, injuries and eventual fatalities within 2 to 3 hours when daylight will arrive.

UPDATE 00:04 UTC : The main problem will NOT be the bigger cities but the small villages closer to the epicenter. The damage in the bigger towns seems to be limited.

UPDATE 23:30 UTC : So far we could only retrieve that 1 person was killed by a heart attack.

UPDATE 23:30 UTC : The Katahyo governor has reported that some people have been killed during this earthquake. No numbers have been given so far.

UPDATE 23:30 UTC : Both fixed and mobile phones went out of service shortly after the earthquake, probably because everybody started to call and sms to each other. As they earthquake was felt all over western Turkey, people from all these areas (even if they had only a weak shaking) did start to use their phones.

UPDATE 23:23 UTC : According to Turkish reports, some buildings in the Simav area should have been collapsed.

UPDATE 23:21 UTC : The eastern Mediterranean countries are very vulnerable for moderate to strong damaging earthquakes. The faults, combined with badly constructed  houses and a big population are a dangerous cocktail.

UPDATE 23:15 UTC : Sky TV is reporting a undefined number of injured people.

UPDATE 23:07 UTC : Most of the houses are made of bricks, which have a very bad resistance against earthquakes. Combined with the time of the earthquake (23:15), this is a deadly cocktail.

UPDATE 23:05 UTC : Although is can be seen as a rural area, the villages and towns are very populated.

UPDATE 23:00 UTC : GFZ (Germany) is reporting a magnitude of 5.7 at a depth of 10 km (less damaging than the other agencies)

UPDATE 22:38 UTC : According to Ozan Kasar, an earthquake-Report facebook fan, the center of the quake is 400Km away from me but almost all country feeled the quake it is weird though. 5,9 according to Turkish quake center.

UPDATE 22:38 UTC : Closest locations to the epicenter are Sogut and Kapikaya

UPDATE 22:35 UTC : Although this can be a very damaging earthquake, GDACS published a GREEN earthquake alert for this earthquake = very limited chance on damage and/or injuries

UPDATE 21:19 UTC : A reminder: This was NOT the Marmara sea earthquake! This is a M5.9-M6.0 shallow normal fault earthquake in Western Turkey.

UPDATE 21:18 UTC : Search and rescue teams were dispatched to the Simav'a Kütahya region, indicating possible problems.

UPDATE 21:16 UTC : Communications are difficult due to jammed lines in Turkey. In addition, a M4.6 aftershock was felt.

UPDATE 21:15 UTC : WAPMERR has come through with an estimate of around that of PAGER with an expected death toll between 0 and 200 deaths. We hope that it is the first number! They say that it depends very much whether the GFZ hypocenter of M5.7 and normal faulting is correct. We agree.

UPDATE 21:10 UTC :
Apart from the fact that the 5.9 magnitude occurred near the town of Kütahya Simav and that it was felt in Istanbul, Ankara, Canakkale, Bursa, Balikesir, Yalova, Afyon, Eskisehir and was felt in Afyonkarahisar, no news has come to hand of casualties and damage as yet. Reports of many people leaving their homes and being out on the sidewalks have come through.

UPDATE 21:05 UTC : Aftershocks have been hitting the Kütahya district.

UPDATE 21:00 UTC : Still no reports of casualties or damage. It is night in Western Turkey so it may be difficult to get initial details if communications are down.

UPDATE 20:55 UTC : There has been much panic in Istanbul with people feeling this earthquake, and believing it to be the big one that is expected sometime in the next 30 years to a high probability.

UPDATE 20:53 UTC :
For our turkish viewers:-
Deprem İstanbul'da hâle gelmiştir.
Bir zararlı deprem sığ bir derinliğe Türkiye'de oluştu.
Bir büyüklüğü 6 sahiptir.
USGS PAGER sistemi VII potansiyel bir MMI de VIII ve 34.000 potansiyel bir MMI az 7000 kişi ile dışarı geliyor
Ayrıca 1 ve 100 arasında ölüm ve orta ekonomik zararın% 88 şansı var.
En önemli Deprem Verileri:
Kadir: 6.0
UTC Saat: 20:15:23
Merkez üssü Yerel saat: 23:15:23
Derinliği (Hypocenter): 4.6km
Coğrafi konum (lar): 39,115 ° N, 29,124 ° E

yakın nüfuslu yerler:? Abseker (16km), ay inge (5 km), İnlice (7km), Derek y (6km), Eskik y (9km), Karaagil (11km), Hasanlar (11km), Yenice (? 17km). En yakın sivil havaalanı Uşak (57km).

UPDATE 20:52 UTC : The nearest populated places are: Abseker (16km), ?ay?inge (5km), Inlice (7km), Derek?y (6km), Eskik?y (9km), Karaagil (11km), Hasanlar (11km), Yenice (17km). The closest civilian airport is Usak (57km).

UPDATE 20:51 UTC : EMSC has released a M5.8 hypocenter at a depth of 7km.
59 km NW Usak (pop 152,862 ; local time 23:15:22.9 2011-05-19)
13 km NE Simav (pop 34,909 ; local time 23:15:22.9 2011-05-19)

This will be potentially damaging in Simav and could have similar side effects to the Elazig earthquake of last year.

UPDATE 20:50 UTC :
This earthquake must have been strong given the response around the Internet, with many Turkish websites having traffic problems.

UPDATE 20:49 UTC :
The earthquake has been felt in Istanbul.

A potentially damaging earthquake has occurred in Turkey at a shallow depth.
It has a magnitude 6.
The USGS PAGER system is coming out with 7000 people at a potential MMI of VIII and 34000 at a potential MMI of VII
They also have an 88% chance of between 1 and 100 deaths and moderate economic damage.

Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude : 6.0
UTC Time : 20:15:23
Local time at epicenter : 11:15:23 PM
Depth (Hypocenter) : 4.6km
Geo-location(s) : 39.115°N, 29.124°E

Links to important maps
USGS Did You Feel It Map
Google satellite map of the area showing the kind of terrain the earthquake took place
3-dimensional view of the earthquake area (USGS epicenter location)
USGS Shaking Map
USGS Impact on Population Map
USGS historic earthquakes map
USGS Seismic hazard map
GDACS GREEN earthquake report

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I did feel it - Ik heb het gevoeld - Το έκανα αισθάνεται - Yo lo siento - 我的确感到了 - 私はそれを感じていました- Ich habe es gefühlt - Bunu hissediyorum yaptı - لم أشعر أنه

The center of the quake is 400Km away from me but almost all country feeled the quake it is weird though. 5,9 according to Turkish quake center.


  1. Earthquake says

    Kutahya/Simav - 3 people died, more than 97 people injured.