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PR, Turkey recovering from massive earthquakes

by Courtney Deeren - Managing Editor
Thu, Feb 6th 2020 05:00 pm
After barely recovering from Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico was hit with a 6.5 magnitude earthquake, leaving many homes in rubble (above). Similarly, Turkey was hit with a 6.7 magnitude quake.
After barely recovering from Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico was hit with a 6.5 magnitude earthquake, leaving many homes in rubble (above). Similarly, Turkey was hit with a 6.7 magnitude quake.

Puerto Rico — a country still affected by the trauma left behind from 2017’s hurricane Maria is facing down its second disaster in three years. The first quake hit in December, then the island was rocked by a magnitude 5.9 quake in early January. Since then the rumbling hasn’t seemed to be letting up. 

On Tuesday, Jan. 7, the island was hit with its strongest earthquake in over a century, a 6.5 magnitude quake. 

CNN reports on the families fleeing their home for some place safer. 

“Even before Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, an unprecedented migration had begun from the Caribbean island to the mainland United States,” Ray Sanchez wrote. 

“It was fueled in part by the U.S. commonwealth's prolonged financial crisis. Then, tens of thousands more departed after the deadly storm, moving to every U.S. state, from Florida to Alaska. Now, they're taking flight again — running from packed shelters set up under tent clusters in hard-hit southern coastal towns assailed by hundreds of temblors.” 

Sanchez’s article delves into the fear and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) many of these people are facing. But none are as exemplary as the experience of Sebastion Quiñones, 10, who spends most of his nights praying for his friends to be safe. 

“Quiñones, his mother, said the boy has insisted on sleeping in the same bed as his parents since the first quake in December.” 

The Quiñoneses left behind their home and their jobs as accountants all to alleviate some of their son’s fear. 

“Sebastian would start crying at night. Every night,” his mother recalled. “The biggest quakes came at night. I would hear him praying for his friends... He would ask God to spare us from the earthquakes each night.” 

While the family has yet to decide if they will return to the island they know for sure they won’t be going back home. 

“If we return, we will not go back to Guayanilla,” she said. “He doesn’t want to return to the house.” 

To say these quakes have triggered people in a new way is an understatement. 

“You can't compare this to Maria,” retired police officer Alejandro Quiles said. “After the storm ended, you felt safe and knew there would be a recovery. In this case, we don’t know when we’ll have more earthquakes.” 

Quiles continued, “you go to sleep each night thinking about what’s going to happen. Where will we go? Should we stay here? It’s stressful not being able to control your life.” 

Over 6 thousand miles away, Turkey was also experiencing an earthquake that caused a death toll of 36 with more than 1,000 people hospitalized, a seperate CNN article reported. At least 10 buildings reportedly collapsed in the 6.7 magnitude quake. 

With several earthquakes happening between two countries over 6 thousand miles apart, many are left with one question: why? 

In 2016, The Guardian posted an article entitled “How climate change triggers earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes.” 

Within the opening few paragraphs, author Bill McGuire squashes that theory but provides a different answer. 

“The short answer is no,” McGuire wrote. “Blame for a single storm cannot be laid at climate change’s door, as reinforced by the bigger picture.” 

However, referencing MIT hurricane scientist Kerry Emanuel, McGuire explores how the two could be linked. 

“The current consensus holds that while a warmer world will not necessarily mean more hurricanes, it will see a rise in the frequency of the most powerful, and therefore more destructive, variety.” 

More recently www.climate.nasa.gov published information further exploring the climate-earthquake link. 

Paul Lundgren, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, spoke with author Alan Buis about the science behind this. 

“It’s very intriguing to be able to find potential links between earthquakes and climate, such as seasonal differences,” Lundgren said. “The challenge, however, is squaring such connections with fundamental physics.” 

Lundgren said that while scientists have come a long way, there is still more that needs to be investigated about these links and what they could mean. 

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