What caused the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Turkey?

Earthquake damage in Syria.
(Image credit: Muhammed Said/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Turkey and Syria were hit by a massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake on Monday that caused widespread damage and left over 5,000 people dead. But what exactly caused the tremor and why was it so destructive?

Turkey is an "earthquake hot spot" because three different tectonic plates converge in the area: the Arabian, Anatolian, and African plates, writes The Washington Post. At the same time, the Arabian plate has been moving northward toward the Eurasian plate, causing Turkey to almost be pushed aside, NPR explains.

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