Very strong damaging earthquake Eastern Turkey (23/10/2011) - Part 1

Earthquake overview : This is part 1 of the cruel damaging earthquake in the Van province of Eastern Turkey. Part 1 does start moments after it happened until 01:00 AM UTC the next day.
"I have Felt it" Reports --> see below + Let us know "how you have felt this earthquake"
To read the full story as it happened, we advise our readers to start at the lower part of the page (earthquake data).

Read also: Understanding the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in East Turkey (October 23, 2011)
Read also
: New Insights into the October 2011 Van (Turkey) Earthquake – detailed analysis by the CEDIM Forensic Earthquake Analysis Group
Read also :Comparing the current impact of the "Van" Earthquake to past earthquakes in Eastern Turkey

This is Part 1 of the Eastern Turkey (Van) earthquake report


Latest casualty Update 01:02 UTC : 138 people were killed, 350 people reported injured and 970 buildings were destroyed (these numbers will certainly rise further as many people are still buried in the rubble of collapsed houses).

Update : Regional rescue teams have acted quickly, but the weather is very cold, a very hard work is still ongoing. May I be sharing the official Turkish Red Crescent link for anyone who would like to send donations.

Image courtesy - click on the picture for the photo gallery

Update 22:44 UTC: An assistance team consisting out of 129 SAR personnel, search dogs and equipment arrived in the late evening from Izmir at the Van airport.

Update : Turkish authorities told the press that the epicenter of the 6.0 magnitude aftershock was centered at Mollakasım, a small town alongside the Van Lake.

Update : The Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan reported a few moments ago that officially the death toll stands at 138 (93 people in Van and 45 in Ercis).

Update : The Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan wanted to fly IMMEDIATELY to the Van damaged area and can be seen on the video while he is watching the rescuers at work. Rescuers will continue to work all night with the help of emergency lights as the power is still not restored in the city.

Update : This is a really informative English spoken video from the Australian network ABC.

Earthquake October 23 2011, Turkey - Van and Ercis - shaking map 6.0 aftershock

Update: Greece is prepared to provide all possible assistance to the Turkish authoritiesafter a devastating earthquake that hit the Van region of the neighbouring country shortly after noon on Sunday, foreign minister Stavros Lambrinidis told his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in a telephone call later in the day.

Important Update: Sources close to the crisis cell have heard that the death toll has risen to 100 and that several hundred people are still buried under the rubble. These numbers are based on the initial earthquake and are not taken into account the aftershock.

Update: Based on the nightly videos we have seen so far, we have to conclude that the power has not been restored so far.

IMPORTANT Update 21:01 UTC:A new strong 5.8 magnitude aftershock just hit the same area. Very dangerous for already damaged buildings. USGS is listing it as a M 6.0 aftershock at a depth of only 9.8 km.

If a M 6.0 earthquake would occur in normal conditions, would also talk about a "dangerous shallow earthquake".

We expect that most people will be outside in the open, even with the cold weather. We also expect that more buildings will have collapsed due to this aftershock, hopefully and probably without people in it.

1000 people will have experienced a VIII severe shaking, 62,000 a VII very strong shaking and 332,000 people a strong shaking. In this case Van is expected to get a VI MMI shaking and Ercis a V MMI.

MMI values in relation to the surrounding cities (Roman number : MMI value, K = 1000):

VI Sarmansuyu 7k, VI Van 372k, VI Gevas 12k, V Ercis 92k, V Adilcevaz 53k, V Bahcesaray 4k, V Ahlat 65k, V Patnos 87k, V Tatvan 73k

The Turkish seismological agency has reported this aftershock at a 5.8 magnitude at a depth of 6.26 km.

Thumbnail of a just published hurriyet image - Click on the image to see the full size picture - The image is probably from the 7-storey apartment building who collapsed

Update: People willing to donate to help the victims and understand Turkish will find all the information here

Update: There have been 104 aftershocks over M2.7 so far. 22 aftershocks over M4. 4 aftershocks over M5.

Important Update 19:07 UTC: 87 deaths and 1000 injuries is the estimate at the moment. (Ercis = 60, Van = 25, other localities = 2). This is expected to rise substantially.

- Van Prison : 200 inmates escaped apparently grabbing the opportunity of earthquake.
- According to the news from Agencies, 38 provinces have send 1275 search and rescue personnel.
- Kandilli Observatory ELER says taking into account the number of buildings that become uninhabitable = 3200-3400, severely damaged buildings = 600 and completely collapsed buildings = 50; 500-700 deaths is the approximate estimate. News from rural locations has not been collected but damage is estimated at around 60-70 percent.

Update 18:58 UTC: The Turkish government is sending skilled SAR personnel (Search and rescue) from the other provinces to Van. The Van airport is till operational what facilitates transport to the earthquake zone. On top of that much equipment like ambulances, tents, medical personnel, etc. Turkey is well organized to deal with earthquakes.

Update 18:21 UTC: - The weather outlook tonight is mixed. It is not raining or snowing but the temperatures will be at freezing point. As people will prefer to stay in the open air (to scared to go inside for eventual very strong aftershocks), they may have a night with almost no sleep.
- As the night has fallen in Turkey (it is now 21:21 in Turkey) limited news facts are coming through.
- The death toll is unchanged since many hours at 85 but will certainly increase within the next 4 to 24 hours. A lot of people are still buried under the debris of the collapsed houses.
- We cannot reach the server from the local Ercis newspaper anymore
- NATO stands ready to assist Turkey if needed

Update: Doctors from Ercis State Hospital reported that the number of the injured patients is close to 1000. Many patients are kept in the hospital's parking lot and the garden in tents.

Update: The Armenian President sent an message of condolences to the President of the Republic of Turkey Abdullah Gül regarding the earthquake that occurred in the Van province. Armenia is located at a relatively short distance from the earthquake area and people in Armenia were very frightened by the shaking (see I have Felt It reports below).

Update: Germany has offered help to Turkey after an earthquake hit the eastern province of Van

The German Green Party called on the international community to provide fast and "unbureaucratic" support for rescue workers.

New casualty Update: 85 people are now reportedly killed during this earthquake (25 in Van and 60 in Ercis)

Update: - A lot of people are leaving the cities and are heading for family in the rural areas. They fear the narrow streets with medium rise apartment buildings.

- Israel has offered to help Turkey with this disaster. It is unknown that Turkey has accepted this offer, as the 2 countries had a lot of differences in the recent past. In a later message Turkey declined the offered aid in saying that Turkey will deal with it internally.

Update 15:57 UTC: 74 people are now reportedly killed during this earthquake (15 in Van and 59 in Ercis)

Update 15:43 UTC:
- 35 SAR people (Search and Rescue) have been send to Ercis and more will arrive later.
- The governor the Van province has setup a 'coordination center' in Ercis to cope with this crisis.
- The current death toll divides into 45 at Ercis and 15 at Van. No word yet from the surrounding villages.
- A lot of people are still burred under the debris. Some people are trying to move the concrete blocks with their bare hands. Heavy material is urgently needed to deal with the rubble, but the process is very dangerous when people are under the rubble.
- Injured are being treated in hospitals.
- Civil Defense and Red Crescent teams from the region have reached the area.

Update: Death toll has been climbing to 60 people

Update: The video below is frightening because of the damage shown:

Update: - 80 buildings collapsed in Ercis
- Classes have been suspended for 1 week at Van university, despite only minor damage to 3 buildings on their campuses.

Update: Again, as we see in many Turkish earthquakes, as reported from Bitlis, many people jumped out of the buildings in panic, causing many more injuries. This shows the fear that people have of their buildings collapsing.

Update: Turkish Red crescent sending 1162 tents, 1000 heaters, 4250 blankets, 500 supply kits

Update : The injured toll has increased to 156 - death toll stands unchanged at 30

Update 14:58 UTC:
- Van University has reported only slight damage to their buildings.
- The cold weather is also affecting people and the need for shelter as night falls becomes a major concern for residents.
- Many people will sleep in the streets scared to return to their homes.

Update : Van building collapse - a typical example of a pancake collapse. It is the most seen collapse methodology on the videos - this means that a higher percentage of fatalities results due to impossibility to escape.

Update: - 33 aftershocks between 2.9 and 5.6 at the moment
- 30 people killed and 80 people injured so far in Ercis alone.
- A 9 year old child's body was found under the rubble of a collapsed building in Bitlis

Update : our Robert Speta made a quick overview YouTube video based on the information we have so far. Those among you who want to watch it in this side have to scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Damage Van - Ercis earthquake October 23, 2011 - image courtesy and copyright

Update 14:09 UTC: Estimates of loss of life are 700-1000 according to Prof. Erdik, who is in charge of the ELER program.

Update: Town of Bitlis has also reported some destroyed buildings (Bitlis is approx. 100 km from the epicenter). We expect the dead toll in the many villages in between to become very high too.

Update: More than 200 injured people were taken to the hospital in Van. Because of the aftershocks patients were moved out in the garden of the hospital.

Deputy Prime Minister Bashir Atalay: "According to information received from Area around 10 buildings were destroyed in the center of Van. Another 25-30 buildings and a dormitory building was destroyed in Ercis. Additional damage may be found in the villages. especially some of the villages attached to the hub there may be more damage. The Prime Minister and Emergency Management and Red Crescent in the region noted Atalay Airlines plane with 160 people and a military aircraft to bring relief supplies to the region has been sent, he said.

Update: Loss of life is expected to be 500-1000 as estimated by Kandilli Observatory ELER Program. Other earthquake loss estimation procedures are reporting much heavier losses.

Update: ELER is also using Mw7.2 as earthquake data now.

Update: This is a Turkish newspaper with a number of videos and very good reporting.

Update: The Airport from Van suffered damage and the flights are directed to Erzurum.

Update: At this moment there are reports of more than 23 fatalities and more than 50 injuries, but the number will certainly increase the next hours. 25 apartment blocks and 1 student residence destroyed in Ercis with many people trapped.

Appeal for help from the mayor of Ercis

"We have a large number of buildings that were destroyed + many dead. The number of dead and wounded is not clear yet. It caused destruction everywhere. Every place was in dust. The hospital is also damaged. We are suffering a shortage on vehicles and ambulances. We expect much immediate help. According to the situation in the city center and the surrounding villages, the amount of destruction is too high to manage. Multi-emergency tents, medical staff and rescue team are needed. Our facilities are limited. No ambulances are left. I have only one hospital, and it is now damaged. We have not enough health centers to cope with this disaster, because there are so many injured and dead. "

Important Update: Balazs Szombath just found this YouTube video from the shaking at Van. This video shows that the shaking was really VIOLENT

Update: The epicenters of the Van quake are quite different between USGS and KOERI (Turkish).
USGS shows that Van is more at risk than Ercis - with 3 felt reports giving an intensity of 9.
KOERI shows it closer to Ercis.

Update : Prime Minister Erdokan of Turkey is on its way to Van and sends in as much support as needed in terms of hospital supplies, rescue staff etc.

Aftershocks Update 12:53 UTC (2 hours 15 minutes after the earthquake) :

2011-10-23 12:42 5 4.2 EASTERN TURKEY
2011-10-23 12:34 12 3.6 EASTERN TURKEY
2011-10-23 12:30 5 3.7 EASTERN TURKEY
2011-10-23 12:23 5 3.8 EASTERN TURKEY
2011-10-23 12:21 7 4.0 EASTERN TURKEY
2011-10-23 12:20 8 4.3 EASTERN TURKEY
2011-10-23 12:17 18 4.1 EASTERN TURKEY
2011-10-23 12:13 7 3.9 EASTERN TURKEY
2011-10-23 12:03 7 4.3 EASTERN TURKEY
2011-10-23 11:32 17 5.9 EASTERN TURKEY
2011-10-23 11:19 7 4.2 EASTERN TURKEY
2011-10-23 11:16 7 3.6 EASTERN TURKEY
2011-10-23 11:10 8 4.8 EASTERN TURKEY
2011-10-23 11:00 10 4.2 EASTERN TURKEY
2011-10-23 10:56 50 5.6 EASTERN TURKEY
2011-10-23 10:53 7 5.1 EASTERN TURKEY
2011-10-23 10:52 7 4.8 EASTERN TURKEY
2011-10-23 10:48 2 4.9 EASTERN TURKEY
2011-10-23 10:41 10 7.3 EASTERN TURKEY

Update: USGS has revised his Pager map based on their new seismological data (7.2 @ 20 km). This has reduced the median loss of life expected through PAGER from around 14000 to 10000.

Update: There have been deaths. The first deaths have been reported, however, it is likely that there is much more to come unfortunately.

Update : Buildings in Tabanli have collapsed. Generally, at this point, citizens are the ones who have to save trapped people. Where masonry is involved this is generally much easier than concrete buildings which need machinery.

Update : There have been 14 felt aftershocks so far.

Update : Golcuk had a fatality ratio of 3.33 % in the earthquake in 1999, being subjected to around the same distance as this earthquake epicentre as Ercis. Based on these percentages an estimate of around 4000 could be expected. However, different building typologies are used in Eastern Turkey as compared to Western Turkey. According to Coburn et al. (1987) most rural buildings in the Van region are made out of rubble or adobe masonry. Traditionally masonry buildings collapse with the ground motions that we have seen in Van/Ercis.

Update : In addition there are reports of a gas explosion somewhere.

Update : URGENT CRY FOR AID in ERCIS - Large number of dead in Ercis. The total population of the city is 145,229 and spread among the city center and villages. The village population is 66,832, while the city or "Centrum"- population is 78,397. Population density is 47/km². (source: Wikipedia)

Update : An overview of some of the aftershocks : Van Ilıkaynak - 5,4 - 13:48, Van Gedikbulak - 5.5 - 13:56, Van Gevaş - 4,6 - 14:10, Van Halkalı - 5,5 - 14:32

Update: PAGER (USGS) is estimating around 12,000 median deaths, with around $15 billion damage. Please refer to their whole range of estimates, as there is a large uncertainty at this point. We want to emphasize that these numbers are PRELIMINARY THEORETICAL numbers, based on the measured data and the historic earthquakes in the area.

Turkey, Van October 23 2011 earthquake shaking map - courtesy USGS

Update: Ercis (town near Van) mayor has said that they expect a very large number dead- state of emergency declared. Ercis State Hospital received heavy damage, and the tent waiting for the ambulance as an emergency, he said.

A person reports from Van: " I saw a house which collapsed in front of the Governor's office. Ambulances sirens rang constantly. I guess were carrying the wounded," he said.

Update: USGS has changed its numbers to the positive side : 7.3 gets 7.2 and the depth of 7 km is updated to 20 km. This is at least a weakening message. Still very dangerous and violent though.

Update: Buildings were destroyed in Van and Sanliurfa and all the settlements have reported some of the buildings collapsed in the earthquake and many buildings were damaged. A large number of injured people have been transferred to hospital, and under the remains of the wreckage recovery operation was launched.

Update: First video from Van looks promising with not as much destruction seen as expected. We are still hoping that the M7.3 is actually an overestimate with M6.6 reported from Kandilli in Turkey.

Update: Most of what we get in at the moment is concentrated on the bigger cities. The situation in the rural still has to be reported.

Update: Those among you who are understanding Turkish can follow LIVE TV footage on this url:

Update: WAPMERR theoretical damage / human impact engine :
ESTIMATE OF HUMAN LOSSES: Injured Exp. min/max: 20000/60000
Fatalities Exp. min/max: 8000/20000

Update: 7-storey Van building collapsed as a result of the earthquake with some citizens trapped in the rubble. Firefighters are trying to save the citizens of the wreckage at the bottom. Information about the place, and consequently the loss of life due to the earthquake happening is not yet known.
Essentially the percentage of people killed in such collapses of major buildings ranges between 20%-50% of the occupants.

This should be a further wake-up call after 1999 for Istanbul.

Update: Based on James Daniell CATDAT data it appears to be the 400-500 year return period earthquake.

Historic CATDAT data for the Van area:
There have been over 30 damaging earthquakes through history in CATDAT with 100km of this epicenter. Here are some of the most damaging ones that have affected Van.
1111- Van earthquake caused major damage, with a magnitude of around 6.5-7.
1646-1648 - Van was again struck by a M6.7 quake, killing around 2000 people.
30th May 1881 - M6.3 - near Van - killed 95 people.
In 1941, a M5.9 earthquake affected Ericis and Van, killing between 190 and 430 people.
A swarm of smaller earthquakes from 1945-1946 killed many people in Van.
The North Anatolian Fault caused additional damage in Van from a 4.9 quake in 1972 with 10 injured.
In 1976, 66km away from this one, a M7 quake on the border killed 3840. 51000 homeless.

Update: We are trying to get as much as possible news from the direct epicenter area, but as most of the communication means are down at the moment, the I have Felt it reports are coming from the alerted neighboring countries.

Update: The epicenter area is currently getting many +5 aftershocks, already dangerous on their own. One of the aftershocks had a magnitude of 5.6 and will certainly cause more destruction.

Update: Data of the different seismological agencies:
Kandilli Turkey : 6.6 @ 5 km
GFZ: 7.3 @ 10 km
EMSC: 7.3 @ 10 km

Update: As could be expected, strong aftershocks will be making the damage even bigger

Update : Some houses in the city have been destroyed, many houses were damaged. Phones fell silent and power has been cut. Kandilli Observatory described the M6.6, 5km depth earthquake as devastating.

Update: Houses have been destroyed, 5km from Van.

Important Historical CATDAT update: The 1976 earthquake on the Iranian-Turkish border was a M7 and killed around 5000 people. If we are looking at a direct hit on Van, the highest death percentage likely is around 6-10%, which could mean values of dead around the Izmit earthquake - between 19000-38000 dead.

Update: Turkish parameters are a little less devastating, but still devastating : 6.6 @ 5 km depth (all data is preliminary)

Update: The intensity numbers as reported theoretically by USGS are DEVASTATING
49,000 people are expected to experience a X shaking (extreme shaking)
381,000 people are expected to experience a IX shaking (violent shaking)
131,000 people are expected to experience a VIII shaking (severe shaking)
264,000 people are expected to experience a VII shaking (very strong shaking)
487,000 people are expected to experience a VI shaking (strong shaking)
12,596,000 people are expected to experience a V shaking (moderate shaking)

Update: This earthquake has been felt in all neighboring countries and beyond. This is a really bad sign. The red colored area on the map below is at very high risk for casualties.

USGS numbers are even more alarming. They are reporting a preliminary magnitude of 7.3 at a depth of 7.2 km. THESE ARE DEVASTATING VALUE

[/caption]We have a lot of I Have Felt reports coming in at the moment, mostly from frightened people in neighboring country Armenia.

The data we are showing at the moment are preliminary and only based on EMSC

The depth should weaken the impact a lot.

"I Have Felt It" reports as received by

IRAN / West Azerbayjan/Orumiyeh city: I fell any move on own desk in office like to signal wave move bs ver soft & with delay. I think peak level was down from 4.
Yerevan, Armenia: The doors and windows made cracking noise. The chandelier began to shake.
Tripoli, North Lebanon: It lasted for a few minutes. Doors were rattling and some books and pictures frames fell off the shelf. It lasted for a few minutes. Doors were rattling and some books and pictures frames fell off the shelf.
Yerevan, Armenia: We felt it here in Yerevan. Very scary. Everybody is out. Can't even imagine what is going in the epicenter.
Yerevan, Armenia: Just got dizzy out of no where, all the chandeliers in the house were shaking for a few minutes without stopping.
Tel Aviv, Israel: Slight shaking felt in high-rise buildings in Tel Aviv.
Armenia, Yerevan, South Eastern district: I live on the 7th floor. the furniture was dancing. The most scary thing was not the strenghth of the quake but its duration. It lasted at least 40 seconds. All the people got out of their houses... About half an hour after the earthquake a new quake was felt (about 2 balls)
Yerevan, Armenia: Hello, We also felt the shaking in South-West district of Yerevan and are very scared. Here almost all the buildings are high-rise and panel constructed.
Lebanon: Our house started to shake and it lasted for about a minute.
Armenia, Yerevan, Arabkir district: I was at 4th floor of panel building. First heard wooden frames of windows squeaking. Quake felt to be horizontal, not vertical. It lasted quite long, minimum 15 maximum 40 seconds, hard to estimate, as times scales, when you understand, this may be your last seconds. People got out, to the streets, mobile network was overloaded. Felt an aftershock, one hour later. people again left buildings. Kinda nervous about every sound now.
Tbilisi, Georgia: Building shook and swayed, lasted a long time. Heard a rattleling sound saw clothes on horizontal pole on neighboring building swaying. We are on the 7th floor of an 1960's Soviet era building

Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude : 6.4
UTC Time : Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 10:41:21 UTC
Local time at epicenter : Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 01:41:21 PM at epicenter
Depth (Hypocenter) : 47 km
Geo-location(s) :
19 km N Van (pop 371,713)
26 km SE Ercis (pop 91,915)

Links to important maps

USGS Did You Feel It Map
Google satellite map showing the epicenter and the surrounding area.
Shaking map
Focal mechanism report
Human impact map
GDACS earthquake report

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