People and rescue teams attempt to reach individuals trapped in collapsed buildings in Adana, Turkey, on February 6, 2023, after a massive earthquake in southeast Turkey and Syria brought down many structures. IHA agency through AP
At least 641 people were killed when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria early Monday morning. The death toll was anticipated to grow as rescue teams dug through the debris in cities throughout the region. Hundreds upon hundreds of people were injured, and hundreds more were believed to be trapped beneath the debris.
On both sides of the border, residents awakened by the pre-dawn earthquake ran outside on a cold, wet, and snowy winter night. Several structures were destroyed, and powerful aftershocks continued.
In various locations, homeowners and rescue personnel raced through tangles of metal and slabs of concrete to look for survivors buried beneath the ruins of their homes.
According to the Turkish Agency for Disaster and Emergency Management, at least 284 people were murdered in seven Turkish regions. According to the agency, 440 individuals were hurt. According to Syrian official media, the dead toll in government-held parts of Syria rose to 237, with more than 630 injured. According to the White Helmets, the emergency organization in opposition-held territories, at least 120 people perished in rebel-held territory.
A citizen of the Turkish city of Adana said that three structures collapsed near his residence. “I don’t have the strength anymore,” a survivor could be heard yelling from beneath the rubble as rescue workers attempted to reach him, according to Muhammet Fatih Yavus, a local journalism student. Cranes and rescue workers hurried individuals on stretchers out of an apartment building-turned-mountain of concrete slabs located further east in Diyarbakir.
On the Syrian side of the border, the earthquake devastated opposition-held areas densely populated by approximately 4 million Syrians displaced from other regions by the country’s protracted civil war. With Russian-backed Syrian forces encircling the area and occasionally conducting airstrikes, many of them live in squalid conditions with limited access to medical treatment. According to rescue workers, hospitals in the area are overcrowded.
Doctor Muheeb Qaddour, speaking by phone from the rebel-held town of Atmeh, expressed concern that the death toll is in the hundreds, referring to the entire rebel-held region. Raed Salah, the leader of the White Helmets, stated that in some areas, entire neighborhoods had fallen.
The earthquake, which was felt as far away as Cairo, struck a territory that has been influenced by the Syrian civil conflict for more than a decade. There are millions of Syrian refugees in Turkey. The quake-affected region of Syria is divided between government-held territory and the country’s last opposition-held enclave, which is besieged by government forces supported by Russia. The epicenter of the earthquake occurred around 100 kilometers from the Syrian border, outside the Turkish province capital of Gaziantep.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake was 11 miles deep.
At least 20 aftershocks followed some daylight hours later, with the biggest registering 6.6, according to Turkish authorities.
Jake Sullivan, U.S. National Security Adviser, made a statement stating, “Reports of today’s catastrophic earthquake in Turkey and Syria have the United States deeply concerned. We are prepared to provide whatever assistance required. President Biden has asked USAID and other federal government partners to evaluate U.S. response options in an effort to aid the most severely afflicted. We will continue to monitor the situation closely in collaboration with the Turkish government.”
Many other nations also supplied assistance. France, Germany, Greece, and — war-torn Ukraine, whose president, Volodomyr Zelenskyy, said Ukraine is “close to the friendly Turkish people” and prepared to offer aid, according to Reuters.
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted that “search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched” to the earthquake-affected districts.
“We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage,” he wrote.
According to Reuters, the Turkish defense ministry stated that Turkish armed forces established an air corridor to allow search and rescue personnel to reach the earthquake zone.
According to Reuters, the Turkish marine authorities claimed that the earthquake damaged the port of Iskenderun in southern Turkey, while operations continued at other ports.
Reuters, quoting an energy official, reported that oil was flowing normally through two major pipelines in Turkey. However, according to the Tribeca shipping agency, activities at the Ceyhan oil terminal in southern Turkey were paused.
The Turkish state pipeline operator BOTAS was quoted by Reuters as saying that a damaged gas pipeline halted the flow of gas to three provinces and nearby territories.
More than 300 kilometers to the northeast, from the cities of Aleppo and Hama in Syria to Diyarbakir, Turkey, buildings were reported to have collapsed.
In Turkey, individuals attempting to flee quake-ravaged regions produced traffic backups, impeding the efforts of rescue organizations attempting to reach the afflicted areas. Officials urged citizens to stay off the roadways. Throughout the region, mosques were established as shelters for those unable to return to their damaged homes due to freezing conditions.
In Diyarbakir, rescue personnel requested silence as they listened for survivors beneath the rubble of an eleven-story structure. One man was rescued and carried on a stretcher through a large gathering of hundreds of people anxiously observing the rescue operation. A woman with gray hair wept as she was brought away by a man, while a rescue worker wearing a white helmet attempted to comfort a girl who was also being comforted by two pals while crying.
In rebel-held northwest Syria, the Syrian Civil Defense described the situation as “disastrous” adding that entire houses had collapsed and people are trapped beneath the wreckage. The civil defense organization asked residents to evacuate buildings and congregate in open spaces. Amjad Rass, president of the Syrian American Medical Society, stated that emergency rooms were packed with injured individuals.
In Damascus, buildings trembled and a large number of people fled to the streets out of panic.
The earthquake shocked Lebanese citizens from their sleep and shook structures for around forty seconds. Many Beirut residents abandoned their homes and took to the streets or their vehicles to flee the buildings.
The earthquake occurred as a blizzard is scheduled to continue through Thursday in the Middle East.
Turkey is regularly affected by earthquakes due to its location on major fault lines.
In 1999, a series of violent earthquakes ravaged the northwest of Turkey, claiming the lives of approximately 18,000
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