A devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake that shook Turkey and Syria overnight claimed the lives of more than 640 people and left scores more wounded, leveling whole neighborhoods while many families were still fast asleep.
Authorities in Italy momentarily issued a tsunami warning along the country’s coast as the fatal earthquake, which lasted around a minute, was felt as far away as Egypt, Lebanon, and the island of Cyprus.
Fearing earthquakes and crumbling structures, citizens of southeast Turkey and northern Syria left their houses in fright. They sought refuge in automobiles.
As hundreds of rescuers rushed into action, scouring through shattered buildings for survivors, worries for those trapped beneath the wreckage increased.
The quake, which may have been the biggest ever recorded in Turkey, was centered north of Gaziantep, Turkey, a city of over 2 million people located about 60 miles from the Syrian border. Many Syrian refugees have settled in the area.
The US Geological Survey reported that it occurred at a depth of around 11 miles at 04:17 local time (0:117 GMT). About 10 minutes later, a powerful aftershock measuring 6.7 trembled. 40 aftershocks, according to Turkey’s own agency, were felt.
Numerous individuals were killed by the earthquake, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Service, across seven Turkish regions. Before Turkey’s Vice President acknowledged that the death toll had increased to 284 and said that 2,323 people had been wounded, the agency reported that 440 people had been injured.
According to Syrian sources, at least 237 people have died and 639 have been wounded throughout Syria, with the most of the casualties occurring in Aleppo, Latakia, Tartus, and Hama.
According to reports, at least 120 people perished in Syria’s rebel-held regions, increasing the total number of fatalities from the enormous earthquake to 641.
According to the White Helmets, the earthquake has left hundreds of people in the area injured, dead, and trapped in the bitter cold.
As rescue crews continue their search for persons trapped under fallen buildings throughout the day, the number of fatalities in the impacted area is anticipated to rise.
According to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “search and rescue teams were promptly despatched” to the earthquake-stricken regions.
He said on Twitter, “We hope that we will get through this calamity together as quickly as possible and with the least harm.” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu encouraged residents not to enter damaged structures because of the dangers.
Our first concern is getting people out from behind collapsed buildings and getting them to hospitals, the man added.
In one of the images from Kahramanmaras, a fire lighted up the night sky, but its source was unknown.
AFP reporters reported terrified residents running out into the streets in the cities of Adiyaman, Malatya, and Diyarbakir, where buildings also collapsed.
Omer Faruk Coskun, the governor of Kahramanmaras, said that because to the extensive building damage, it was too soon to determine the number of fatalities.
Because so many structures have been demolished, Coskun said that it was now impossible to provide the number of people who have died and been wounded. “The harm is significant.”
In the region of Maltaya, a historic 13th-century mosque partly fell together with a 14-story structure housing 28 flats.
Rescuers in other places labored in agony to locate survivors buried beneath the rubble.
One rescuer was heard stating on NTV broadcast in front of a destroyed building in the city of Diyarbakir, “We hear sounds here and over there, too.”
200 individuals could be hiding under the debris.
Buildings in Aleppo, Syria’s pre-war commercial center, frequently collapsed even before the tragedy because of the city’s crumbling infrastructure from more than a decade of war and devasting airstrikes, as well as the lack of oversight for new construction projects, some of which were built illegally.
According to SANA, the earthquake was felt all the way from Damascus to Latakia’s western shore.
The National Earthquake Centre’s director, Raed Ahmed, informed SANA that this earthquake was the biggest since the center’s founding in 1995.
An AFP reporter saw rescuers removing five dead and survivors from the debris of a collapsed three-story building close to the border town of Azaz on the Syrian side.
In one of the devastated communities, rescue personnel and locals were sifting through mounds of twisted metal and concrete debris with flashlights.
People on the street called out to those within an apartment building that was dangerously tilting and partly fell.
Three buildings reportedly fell close to one resident’s house in the Turkish city of Adana.
According to the local, journalism student Muhammet Fatih Yavus, one survivor was heard saying, “I don’t have the strength anymore,” as rescuers sought to get to him from under the debris.
Cranes and rescue crews hurried patients on stretchers out of what was formerly an apartment complex in Diyarbakir, farther east, where there was a mountain of pancaked concrete floors.
The National Security Advisor to Joe Biden, Jake Sullivan, tweeted that the United States was looking for ways to help.
He referred to the deadly earthquake that occurred today in Turkey and Syria as “Turkiye” and “Syria,” respectively, adopting the newly-adopted official U.S. government spelling of Turkey.
“I have spoken with Turkish authorities to let them know that we are prepared to provide any support that may be required.”
In conjunction with Turkiye, “We will continue to actively monitor the situation.”
The director of USAID, Samantha Power, said that they were examining their options for assistance.
She tweeted, “Deeply worried about the earthquake that just rocked Turkey & Syria.”
It’s one of the strongest storms to strike Turkey in the last 100 years, and the human cost, notably for Syrians who have already been uprooted, will be catastrophic.
The @POTUS has instructed @USAID to determine how we can assist those affected.
Narendra Modi, the president of India, added his support.
He tweeted that he was “angry” over the deaths and property destruction brought on by the earthquake in Turkey.
Condolences to the families of the deceased. May those who were hurt quickly heal.
India declares its sympathy with the Turkish people and its readiness to provide all help needed to deal with this catastrophe.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, also pledged his war-torn nation’s assistance.
On Monday morning, he tweeted, “Shocked by the news of the death and injuries of hundreds of people as a consequence of the earthquake in Turkey.”
We send our sympathies to the victims’ families and hope those who were hurt a quick recovery. We are now near to the welcoming Turks and ready to provide any aid required.
The top diplomat for the 27-nation union, Josep Borrell, declared that the EU was prepared to assist the affected nations.
He said on Twitter that a devastating earthquake had hit Syria and Turkey early in the morning, killing hundreds of people and wounding many more.
We are praying for the people of Syria and Turkey. The EU is prepared to assist.
Local journalist Fared Al Mahlool, who is located in Syria, posted a video of fallen homes and people rummaging through the debris.
He wrote, “Here in the city of Salqin in the countryside of Idlib, Syria.”
“We had a powerful earthquake that ruined everything.” ruins of buildings with people buried underneath them.
Turkish national Eren Bali, who resides in the United States, posted images of his hometown of Malatya’s destroyed buildings.
He said that a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Southeast Turkey lasted 90 seconds.
“More than 100 buildings reportedly fell in just my hometown of Malatya,”
Unconfirmed photos from Hatay purported to show a family being pulled from a fallen house’s debris in the midst of a snowstorm.
Another video showing a kid being saved was shared on Twitter by the same individual.
Another guy posted what he claimed to be video from Gaziantep, showing flooded streets caused by ruptured water lines.
Authorities in northwest Syria described the situation there as “disastrous,” noting that whole buildings had fallen and that people were trapped under the debris.
Four million Syrians who had been forced to leave other areas of the nation due to the protracted civil conflict were living in opposition-held areas when the earthquake struck.
Many of them have poor living circumstances and minimal access to healthcare.
A doctor in the village, Muheeb Qaddour, told The Associated Press over the phone that at least 11 people were murdered in the Syrian hamlet of Atmeh and that many more were buried in the wreckage.
In the northwest, which is controlled by the rebels, Qaddour stated, “We think that the dead are in the hundreds.”
We are under a great deal of strain.
People were instructed to leave buildings and congregate in open spaces by the civil defense.
According to Amjad Rass, president of the Syrian American Medical Society, emergency facilities were overflowing with wounded people.
Salih Ayhan, the governor of Sanliurfa Province in southeast Turkey, said on Twitter that “we have demolished structures” and encouraged residents to seek safety.
The town of Pazarcik, located in the province of Kahramanmaras, was the epicenter of the 7.4-magnitude earthquake, according to AFAD, Turkey’s disaster and emergency management organization.
It was assigned a 7.8 by the US Geological Survey.
According to Governor Salih Ayhan, at least 10 fatalities in Sanliurfa have been officially verified.
In the nearby provinces of Malatya, Diyarbakir, and Malatya, many structures collapsed.
People rushing to evacuate the earthquake-hit districts in Turkey produced traffic congestion, which made it difficult for rescue crews to get to the afflicted areas.
Authorities pleaded with citizens to stay off the roadways.
In the midst of temperatures that were close to freezing, mosques all around the area were being opened as shelters for individuals who couldn’t go back to their damaged houses.
The most famous feature of Gaziantep, its medieval castle built on a hill in the middle of the city, was severely damaged by the earthquake. Images revealed that portions of the fortress’s walls and watchtowers had been leveled while other portions had sustained significant damage.
Rescue workers in Diyarbakir asked for stillness as they searched for lives under the rubble of an 11-story structure.
The central city of Hama and the northern city of Aleppo both had some building collapses, according to the state-run media in Syria.
Buildings in Damascus trembled, and many people fled into the streets out of panic.
Samer, a local of the Syrian city, said that paintings had fallen from the walls of the residence.
I was scared when I woke up. We are all dressed and waiting at the entrance right now.
The opposition-held enclave in northwest Syria, which is centered on the province of Idlib, has been under constant Russian and government airstrikes for years and now faces fresh difficulties as a result of the earthquake.
Everything from food to medical supplies comes to the region from Turkey, which is close.
The Syrian Civil Defence, an opposition group, called the situation there “disastrous,” noting that whole structures had fallen and that people were trapped under the debris.
The remains of numerous deceased children, covered in blankets, were transported to a hospital in the tiny Syrian town of Azmarin near the Turkish border, which is controlled by rebels.
The earthquake in Lebanon shocked people out of their sleep and shook the buildings for roughly 40 seconds. Many Beirut residents walked out of their houses, drove their vehicles away from the buildings, or went to the streets.
A snowfall that is currently affecting the Middle East is scheduled to last until Thursday when the earthquake struck.
The head of the Turkish Red Cross encouraged residents to leave damaged houses as they announced that they were gathering resources for the area after learning of catastrophic damage and fallen structures.
Major fault lines run across the nation, which is regularly affected by earthquakes.
Intense earthquakes that struck northwest Turkey in 1999 claimed 18,000 lives.