What are the largest earthquakes that have occurred in Turkey?
A magnitude 7.4 earthquake hit Kahramanmaras. Another 6.5 magnitude earthquake occurred in the Islahiye district of Gaziantep. Earthquakes were also felt in surrounding provinces, especially in Mersin, Adana, Gaziantep and Sanliurfa. These earthquakes brought to mind the biggest and most severe earthquakes in Turkey’s history. So, what are the biggest and most severe earthquakes ever experienced in Anatolia? Where and when did these earthquakes occur?
According to data from the Earthquakes Department of Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), great losses have been experienced in the earthquakes that occurred in Turkey. This natural disaster, which last reminded us of its existence with the Izmir earthquake, holds a lot of space in Anatolian memory. Here are the massive earthquakes that have resulted in loss of life and destruction…
ISTANBUL EARTHQUAKE (1509)
130 thousand people died, and 1,707 buildings were destroyed in the 7.2 magnitude earthquake which occurred on September 10, 1509 near the Islands of the Sea of Marmara. The earthquake was stated to have shaken Istanbul and its surroundings for 40 days and was named Kiyamet-i Sugra (Minor Doomsday).
ISTANBUL EARTHQUAKE (1719)
The May 24, 1719 earthquake, which was felt in Istanbul and its surroundings, caused great damage and destroyed many homes, mosques, and public baths, while the domes of the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque and the madrasa collapsed, and the walls and bastions between Yedikule and Ahirkapi were damaged. This earthquake also caused damage in Izmit.
ISTANBUL EARTHQUAKE (1766)
In the earthquake that took place in Istanbul on May 22, 1766 and lasted for 3 months with aftershocks, many homes and mosques, including Fatih Mosque, built by order Sultan Mehmed the Conquerer were destroyed. Baruthane, Grand Bazaar, the Walls of Constantinople, Sarachane, Tophane, the Janissary Barracks, and Topkapi Palace were damaged.
ISTANBUL EARTHQUAKE (1894)
In the July 10, 1894 Istanbul earthquake, which was known as “The Great Land Movement” due to the large-scale destruction it caused and because it was felt in a wide area, the buildings in Eminonu and Fatih, as well as the Grand Bazaar, were destroyed. Yalova and Adapazari were also affected. It is estimated that more than 1,500 people died in the earthquake.
ERZINCAN EARTHQUAKE (1939)
In the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that took place in Erzincan on December 27, 1939 and in which approximately 116 thousand buildings collapsed, 33 thousand people lost their lives and 100 thousand were injured.
ERBAA EARTHQUAKE (1942)
In 1942, 3 thousand people lost their lives in an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 in the Erbaa district of Tokat.
LADIK EARTHQUAKE (1943)
The 7.6 magnitude earthquake that occurred on November 26, 1943 in the Ladik district of Samsun was felt in residential areas stretching from Tasova to Ilgaz. In the earthquake, which destroyed 75 percent of the buildings in the region, approximately 2,300 people lost their lives, and 5 thousand people were injured.
VARTO EARTHQUAKE (1966)
In 1966, two major earthquakes occurred in the Varto district of Mus. In the earthquake, the first of which occurred on March 7, 14 people lost their lives and 75 people were injured. In the second earthquake that occurred on August 19, approximately 2,400 people died and 1,500 people were injured.
BINGOL EARTHQUAKE (1971)
The epicenter of the May 22, 1971 earthquake with a 6.8 magnitude was Bingol. In the earthquake, 878 people died, 700 were injured, and 9,111 buildings were damaged or destroyed.
MURADIYE EARTHQUAKE (1976)
In the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that occurred on November 24, 1976 in the Muradiye district of Van, nearly 10 thousand buildings were damaged, 3,840 people lost their lives, and 500 were injured. In addition to those left under the rubble of the earthquake, those who froze to death in the harsh rainy and snowy weather which dropped to 17 degrees below zero were also recorded.
GOLCUK EARTHQUAKE (1999)
According to official records, a total of 18,373 people in Kocaeli, Yalova, Sakarya, Istanbul, Bursa, Bolu, Zonguldak and Eskisehir, were hit by an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4 on the Richter scale. The quake, which occurred at 03:02 on August 17, 1999 and which had its epicenter in the Golcuk district of Kocaeli, killed 18,373 people and left more than 20,000 injured. Thousands of buildings were destroyed in the earthquake lasting 45 seconds that was felt in an area as vast as the Marmara Region, Ankara, and Izmir. The earthquake was recorded as one of the most destructive earthquakes in the history of the country.
DUZCE EARTHQUAKE (1999)
The 7.2 magnitude earthquake that occurred in Duzce on November 12, 1999 was also felt in neighboring countries. In the earthquake that lasted for 30 seconds, 710 people lost their lives and 2,678 people were injured.
BINGOL EARTHQUAKE (2003)
The earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4 which took place on May 1, 2003 at 03:27 local time, affected eastern Turkey. At least 176 people were killed while 625 buildings collapsed or were severely damaged.
ELAZIG EARTHQUAKE (2010)
41 people lost their lives in the 6.0-magnitude earthquake that occurred on March 8, 2010. Houses in dozens of villages were destroyed in the earthquake with its epicenter in Karakocan Okçular village.
VAN EARTHQUAKES (2011)
In 2011, 644 people lost their lives while 1,966 others were injured in two earthquakes, the first with a magnitude of 7.2 on October 23 with its epicenter in Van’s Tabanli district, and the second in Edremit with a magnitude of 5.6 on November 9. Many buildings were also destroyed as a result of the earthquake.
ELAZIG EARTHQUAKE (2020)
On January 24, 2020, the magnitude of the earthquake, the epicenter of which was in the Sivrice district of Elazig, was measured as 6.8. While 41 people lost their lives in the earthquake, more than 1,600 people were injured.
* This article was originally published in Turkish by Kronos News here.