Why the Turkey earthquake was so deadly, according to science

Personnel conduct search-and-rescue operations in Diyarbakir, Turkey, after 7.8- and 7.5-magnitude earthquakes hit southern Turkey on Monday. (Esra Hacioglu Karakaya/Getty Images)
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A massive, deadly earthquake struck southern Turkey before dawn local time on Monday. The 7.8-magnitude quake has so far killed more than 21,000 people in Turkey and neighboring Syria, with numbers expected to climb. It also triggered dozens of destructive aftershocks.

Why do earthquakes happen in this region, and how unusual is the latest event? Here’s what we know so far.