Early Monday, a massive earthquake measuring 7.8 magnitudes struck central Turkey and northwest Syria, causing hundreds of deaths as buildings collapsed. In addition to Cyprus and Lebanon, the earthquake was felt there as well. During the dark hours of the winter morning, residents of the Turkish city of Gaziantep were forced out of their homes by a powerful earthquake.
According to the Turkish disaster agency, 76 people were killed and 440 injured, while Syrian state media reported over 100 fatalities and numerous injuries in the provinces of Hama, Aleppo, and Latakia. The situation in Salqin near the Turkish border is dire, with tens of buildings collapsing. A rescue organization known as the White Helmets described the situation as “very tragic.”
The earthquake was felt in the capitals of both Turkey and Syria, and residents in Beirut, Tripoli, and Damascus ran into the streets and fled to their vehicles in fear of building collapses. White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has stated that the United States is deeply concerned about the earthquake and is prepared to provide any assistance that may be necessary.
There is a history of earthquakes in the region due to its proximity to seismic fault lines. Approximately 17 buildings in Diyarbakir collapsed as a result of the tremor, which lasted about a minute. Broadcasters TRT and Haberturk showed footage of rescue efforts underway in the dark city of Kahramanmaras. The Turkish Interior Minister, Suleyman Soylu, stated that the primary focus is on search and rescue.
As a result of the initial earthquake, there were several aftershocks, including a 6.7 magnitude quake in Gaziantep and a 5.6 magnitude quake in the city’s Nurdag area. The US Geological Survey reported the initial quake’s magnitude as 7.8, while the German Research Centre for Geosciences stated it was 7.4. Tremors were felt as far as 460 km away in the Turkish capital of Ankara, but no damage was reported in Cyprus.
In addition to being one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world, Turkey has a history of devastating earthquakes. Over 17,000 people were killed by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck Izmit in 1999, and over 500 people were killed by a 7.4 magnitude earthquake that struck Van in 2011. The Turkish Red Crescent relief agency has issued an appeal for blood donations as the aftermath of this latest earthquake continues to unfold.