By Karine Kalantarian and Artem Chernamorian in Gyumri
A powerful earthquake that hit Turkey over the weekend sent a wave of aftershocks to the northwestern regions of neighboring Armenia early on Monday.
An aerial photo of a western Turkish town hit by the earthquake
Armenian seismologists said the disaster, which killed 45 people and injured more than 300 in western Turkey, was the main cause of an earthquake measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale at its epicenter near the town of Ashotsk. Tremors rocked the nearby towns of Gyumri, Vanadzor and Stepanavan that have still not recovered from the devastating earthquake of 1988. They were also felt in Yerevan.
No one was reported injured. In Gyumri, the quake tore down a wall in an apartment of a decrepit building. A seven-member family lived there, defying authorities’ warning that the building is in danger of collapsing.
The regional head of the Armenian National Seismic Service, Heghine Sarkisian, said the tremors in Turkey and Armenia were interrelated as both countries are criss-crossed by seismic fault lines. “The entire Caucasus is located in a tense zone and the Turkish earthquake, too, can have an impact on our northern regions,” she told RFE/RL.
A spokesman for the Seismic Service in Yerevan, Armen Manvelian, downplayed the significance of the latest quake, saying that it was not powerful and was expected by his agency.
Meanwhile, officials in Turkey called off search-and-rescue efforts as soldiers and aid workers raced to provide shelter and food Monday for hundreds of people left homeless by the disaster. The quake struck the mainly agricultural province of Afyon, some 250 km (155 miles) southwest of the capital Ankara. Many of its residents spent the night in tents or vehicles despite subfreezing temperatures.