As the death toll from one of Turkey’s worst earthquakes in 100 years approaches 600, rescuers are frantically searching for survivors buried in rubble on both sides of the Turkey-Syria border.
A 7.8-magnitude earthquake with tremors as far away as Lebanon and Israel woke residents up around 4 a.m. on Monday, causing thousands more injuries.
The epicenter of the earthquake was 24.1 kilometers (14.9 miles) beneath the surface, 23 kilometers (14.2 miles) east of Nurdagi in Turkey’s Gaziantep province, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
Video from the scene in Turkey showed people waiting for help as the sun rose over rows of collapsed buildings, some of which had apartments exposed to the elements.
At least 284 people have died, and over 2,300 have been injured in Turkey, according to Vice President Fuat Oktay. According to Syrian official television, at least 386 people were killed in neighboring Syria, primarily in Aleppo, Hama, Latakia, and Tartus.
Furthermore, the “White Helmets” organization—officially known as the Syria Civil Defense—reported at least 147 fatalities in opposition-held areas of northwest Syria. Anti-government forces control a large portion of northwest Syria, which borders Turkey, in the midst of a violent civil war that began in 2011.
According to the USGS, Monday’s earthquake was the largest to strike Turkey since 1939, when a similar magnitude earthquake killed 30,000 people. On average, less than five earthquakes of this magnitude occur on the planet each year, making them infrequent events. In the last 25 years, Turkey has experienced seven earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or higher, but Monday’s was the most powerful.
The earthquake-prone region was affected on Monday, according to Karl Lang, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech University’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. It’s a massive fault zone, but according to Lang, this is the largest earthquake in recent memory.
“It seemed to go on forever.”
When the earthquake struck early Monday morning, Gaziantep-based journalist Eyad Kourdi, who was visiting his parents at the time, said, “it felt like it would never end.”
He claimed that Kourdi and his father left their house while still in their jammies after the shaking subsided.
They waited for about thirty minutes outside in the rain while he went inside to get coats and boots; there were several inches of snow on the ground.
Both southern and central Turkey have felt strong aftershocks. About 11 minutes later, the strongest aftershock, measuring 6.7 magnitudes, struck about 32 kilometers (20 miles) northwest of the original earthquake’s epicenter. A powerful aftershock with a magnitude of 5.6 was felt 19 minutes after the initial quake.
Kourdi claimed that after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, there were up to eight “extremely strong” aftershocks in less than a minute, causing items in his home to fall to the ground. He claimed that many of his neighbors had fled following the earthquake.
Images revealing the true scope of the disaster emerged as the day broke in Turkey. Metal rods were strewn across the streets, and entire structures were flattened. As cars collide, bulldozers clear the debris.
The strong earthquake severely damaged Gaziantep Castle.
A winter storm in the area, according to CNN meteorologists, is exacerbating the situation.
“Hundreds of thousands of people are affected. It’s cold outside. It is raining. According to CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis, roads may affect your access to food, a source of income, and your ability to care for your family and children.
“Anything growing in this area, including crops, will be affected. The effects of this will be felt for weeks and months in this area.
Turkey’s interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, stated that teams had been dispatched to the country’s south to conduct search and rescue operations. According to the European Union’s humanitarian program, the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC), the disaster agency AFAD, has requested international assistance.
According to its governor, Ali Yerlikaya, approximately 1,000 search and rescue volunteers, as well as dogs, trucks, and equipment, have been dispatched from Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city.
“I’m sorry for your loss. “I wish the best for everyone who has been injured,” Yerlikaya tweeted.
The governor of Gaziantep, Davut Gul, tweeted that “the earthquake was felt powerfully in our city” and urged residents to remain calm while waiting outside their homes.
Please wait outside in silence. Let’s not drive our cars. Do not clog the main thoroughfares. Let’s not use the phones too much, he said.
According to Asli Aydintasbas, a Brookings Institute fellow, the province of Gaziantep has several small and medium-sized cities with large refugee populations.
These areas aren’t particularly prosperous. Some metropolitan areas are more prosperous than others. She added that other locations being discussed that appear to have been decimated are in relatively lower-income communities.
Rescuers can be seen working feverishly to extricate survivors from the rubble in a video from Diyarbakir, northeast of Gaziantep.
According to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the earthquake was felt across much of the country.
“I send my warmest condolences to all of our countrymen who were impacted by the earthquake that struck Kahramanmaraş and was felt throughout much of our nation. All of our relevant units are on alert under the direction of AFAD, Erdogan said on Twitter.
As world leaders awoke Monday morning to the news of the deadly earthquake, sympathy and solidarity began to pour in.
According to White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, the US is “profoundly concerned” about the devastation in Turkey and Syria.
“I have spoken with Turkish officials to let them know that we are prepared to offer any support that may be required. We’ll keep a close eye on the situation in collaboration with Turkiye, Sullivan tweeted.