A 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit near Van, Turkey on Wednesday, causing at least 18 buildings to collapse, including a six-story hotel where rescuers are now working to free 35 trapped people.
The quake hit in the exact same region where less than three weeks earlier a 7.2 magnitude quake hit, killing more than 600 people, most of them dying beneath the rubble of destroyed buildings and homes.
A second hotel, an office building and other buildings, many of them already damaged from the last quake, also collapsed on Wednesday, according to initial reports.
While it hasn't been confirmed whether the Wednesday night quake, which occurred at 9:23 p.m. local time, was an aftershock of the Oct. 23 Van earthquake or an isolated event, there have been around 1,400 aftershocks in the area in the past two weeks.
Many residents of the cities of Van, Ercis and nearby villages became homeless after the first earthquake, and many are still living in tent camps, either out of necessity or fear that their homes would again collapse in an aftershock, according to The Associated Press.
Earthquakes in Turkey are not uncommon, but the quake in October was the worst since the 1999 ?zmit earthquake that killed more than 17,000 people and left 60,000 more homeless. Many of the people who died then were crushed when poorly built houses collapsed during the 7.6 magnitude tremor. If they had been built better, more people who have lived, and less would have been rendered homeless.
The country gets hit by earthquakes of magnitude 6.0 or greater every couple of years, especially in the eastern region where the quake hit Wednesday.
While earthquakes cannot be predicted, many of the people who died in the last the earthquake could have survived, if only Turkey had learned a lesson in 1999 and improved its construction material.
When we look at the wreckage, we see how the material used is of bad quality, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the time.
We see that people pay the price for concrete that virtually turned to sand, or for weakened concrete blocks on the ground floors. Municipalities, constructors and supervisors should now see that their negligence amounts to murder.
Despite all previous disasters, we see that the appeals were not heeded.
In Van on Wednesday, many of the people who were trapped under the hotel were rescue workers and journalists still working in the rubble of the Oct. quake.
Thousands of rescuers responded after the disaster, and international aid came in from a number of countries, including Azerbaijan, Belgium, Egypt, France, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Switzerland, England, Ukraine and the United Nations.