A Violent Earthquake Devastates Turkey and Syria, At Least 1,600 Dead and 7,600 Injured

Damaged vehicles sit parked in front of a collapsed building following an earthquake in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey, early Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. A powerful quake has knocked down multiple buildings in southeast Turkey and Syria and many casualties are feared. (Depo Photos via AP)

The earth shook in southeastern Turkey early Monday morning, as far north as neighboring Syria. It was the strongest earthquake in over twenty years. A second major tremor hit the area in the morning.

The toll keeps getting worse. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit southern Turkey and neighboring Syria on Monday morning, killing more than 1,600 people in both countries and causing very significant damage, according to initial reports. At least 912 people have been killed in Turkey in seven different provinces, and less than 5,385 injured, according to a still provisional report given by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the morning. And in Syria, at least 783 others have died and around 2,280 have been injured, according to the Syrian government and relief workers operating in rebel areas.

But this figure is expected to continue to rise, as thousands of buildings have collapsed in Turkey, according to the vice president. A second earthquake, of magnitude 7.5, also hit the region in the late morning.

According to the American seismological institute USGS, the first earthquake took place at 4:17 a.m. local time (1:17 a.m. GMT), at a depth of about 17.9 kilometers. The epicenter is located in Turkey, in the province of Kahramanmaras (southeast), about 60 km as the crow flies from the Syrian border. The tremors, felt across the southeast of the country, were also felt in Lebanon and Cyprus.

50 aftershocks have been recorded in Turkey, according to Afad, the government disaster management agency. This earthquake is the largest in Turkey since the earthquake of August 17, 1999, which caused the death of 17,000 people, including a thousand in Istanbul.

Turkish rescuers and civil defense as well as Syrian firefighters were at work Monday morning to try to extract possible victims from the rubble, according to local media. Buildings have been destroyed in many cities in the south-east of the country, according to images broadcast by the Turkish media, raising fears of a much heavier toll.

“All our teams are on alert. We have issued a level four alarm. It is a call, including for international help, ”said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on the Haberturk channel. “Our teams are on alert to rescue survivors,” also assured the Syrian White Helmets, rescuers engaged in rebel areas in Syria, on Twitter.

The governor of Gaziantep province called on residents to gather outside despite the cold, while the head of Diyanet, the Turkish public body responsible for supervising worship, called on Turks in need to find refuge in mosques.


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