Landslide divides rural village in Turkey, raises earthquake fears

Concerns about a potential earthquake resurfaced after multiple landslides split the rural Günebakan village in Turkey's Tokat province into two.

Photo: DHA

Duvar English

Consecutives landslides on the first days of February have cleaved the rural village of Günebakan in Turkey’s Tokat province in half, destroying at least five houses and a mosque, while causing damage to 40 structures and displacing a road by three meters.

Several houses in the vicinity of the incident have been evacuated and no casualties have been reported.

According to a local resident who spoke to news agency Niksar Danismend, the absence of casualties was attributed to their observation of cracks gradually developing over the past 10 days.

"People evacuated their homes, but unfortunately, everyone left their belongings," he said.

Günebakan is now divided between a segment with 100 households and another with 350 households, while travel between the sections has been impeded, village mukhtar (village head) Şevket Cebecioğulları previously said.

"Due to the landslide, even pedestrian traffic is impossible. Our power line is severed, and there's a disruption in the drinking water network," Cebecioğulları said, noting that a generator currently supplies electricity.

Ömer Özkan, Chairperson of the Disaster Detection and Search and Rescue Association (ATAKDER), suggested to media outlets that the incident could indicate an active fault line.

Özkan said the landslide showed how significant the effects of fault lines are, urging local authorities to take necessary precautions, as simulations project a potential death toll of approximately 70,000 if a magnitude 7 earthquake were to strike today.

Günebakan, lying along the North Anatolian Faultline, has experienced severe earthquakes before. The village was rocked by a 4.2 magnitude earthquake on Nov. 21, 2021, and a 7.1 magnitude quake on Dec. 20, 1942, resulted in around 3,000 fatalities.

The North Anatolian Faultline also traverses Istanbul, which anticipates a potentially devastating tremor, with many buildings at high risk of collapse.

(English version by Wouter Massink)