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Massive 7.8 magnitude quake devastates Turkiye, Syria

Addis Ababa, February 6, 2023 (FBC) – Powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastates Turkiye and Syria, injuring multiple people and multiple fatalities expected, according to several reports.

Sputnik reports that a massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Kahramanmaras Province, central Turkey, at 01:17 GMT on Monday. The quake was recorded roughly 15 miles 24 kilometers underground and was felt in at least six nearby provinces (Hatay, Adana, Osmaniye, Diyarbakir, Malatya and Sanliurfa).

Meanwhile The Guardian reported that more than 300 people have been killed in Turkey and Syria after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit in the early hours of Monday morning, in one of the most powerful quakes to hit the region in at least a century.

Hundreds were injured and the toll was expected to rise as rescue workers and residents frantically searched for survivors under the rubble of crushed buildings in cities on both sides of the border.

The quake struck at 04:17 am local time (0117 GMT) at a depth of about 17.9 kilometres (11 miles), the US Geological Survey said, with a 6.7-magnitude aftershock striking 15 minutes later. Turkey’s emergency management ministry, the AFAD, said the quake first struck in the town of Pazarcık, an hour north of Gaziantep, a key industrial city in southern Turkey. The town of Nurdağı, some 80km (50 miles) south-west, was the epicentre of the second tremor.

Television images showed shocked people in Turkey standing in the snow in their pyjamas, watching rescuers dig through the debris of damaged homes. Buildings were levelled while many were still asleep.

The number of confirmed casualties rose rapidly on Monday morning as rescue teams rushed to find survivors.


Turkey’s AFAD declared at least 76 people dead and hundreds injured across seven of the country’s southern provinces adjacent to the border with northern Syria. The Syrian health ministry said at least 245 people were killed and hundreds wounded in the provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama and Tartus.


The death toll was expected to climb substantially as dozens of apartment blocks were flattened across major cities in the nighttime disaster.


Tremors were felt as far away as Lebanon, Greece, Israel and the island of Cyprus.


Turkey’s Anadolu news agency said the governor of the southern province of Şanlıurfa reported 15 people were killed and 30 more injured. In Malatya, a town 225km (140 miles) north-east of Gaziantep, the local governor said at least 23 people had been killed, 420 injured and 140 buildings destroyed.

The head of the Turkish Red Cross said it was mobilising resources for the region and urged people to evacuate damaged homes.


Residents in the town of Pazarcık said they feared for those trapped under fallen buildings. Nihat Altundağ said the powerful shocks from the earthquake woke his family.


“Our house looks solid from the outside but there are cracks inside. There are destroyed buildings around me, there are houses on fire. There are buildings that are cracking. A building collapsed just 200 meters away from where I am now. Thank God, our friends are safe, but we heard there are people who can’t get out of their homes and there are people we can’t reach,” he said.


“We are waiting for the sun to rise so that we can see the scale of the earthquake. People are all outside, all in fear.”


“Pazarcik is in ruins,” said resident Hüseyin Satı. “The building where I live is not so tall, and was built in compliance with earthquake regulations, so it didn’t collapse. But still there are cracks on the walls. A neighbour of mine broke his back while jumping from the balcony during the earthquake and is now in hospital.”


Satı said that civilians were desperately trying to help dig their neighbours out from under collapsed buildings.


“Two of my friends are under the rubble now, we are trying to reach them,” he said.

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who will be under pressure to oversee an effective response to the disaster heading to a tightly contested 14 May election, said search and rescue teams had immediately been dispatched to the affected areas. “We hope to get through this together as soon as possible and with the least damage, and we continue our work,” he tweeted.


The Turkish interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, said: “All our teams are on the alert. We have raised a level four alarm, which includes international aid.”

Broadcasters TRT and Haberturk showed images of people gathered around wrecked building in Kahramanmaras, seeking survivors.


A famous mosque dating back to the 13th century partially collapsed in the province of Maltaya.


In other cities, rescuers sounded anguished as they struggled to reach survivors trapped under the debris.


“We hear voices here – and over there, too,” one rescuer was overheard as saying on NTV television in front of a flattened building in the city of Diyarbakir. “There may be 200 people under the rubble.”

In Syria, early footage from local rescue teams suggested the province of Idlib in the north could be one of the worst affected areas, with the quake hitting a region already extensively damaged from over a decade of civil war and where millions are living in areas for those internally displaced. An estimated four million people live in Idlib province.


The Syrian Civil Defence, a rescue service known as the White Helmets that works to save those trapped under debris from airstrikes, said they had declared a state of emergency to rescue the many feared trapped under collapsed buildings in areas around Idlib across opposition-held areas in north-western Syria.


In a statement, the organisation described “a catastrophic situation with buildings collapsed or suffering major cracks, hundreds injured and stranded, dozens dead and a lack of services as well as safe shelters and assembly points in stormy and snowy weather conditions and low temperatures”.


The group also added a plea for aid from the international community “to prevent the situation from worsening” and to pressure both the Syrian government and their backers in Moscow to hold back on airstrikes in the area to prevent further tragedy.


Syrian state media said a large number of buildings collapsed in the province of Aleppo, while a source in the Hama civil service said several buildings collapsed there.


People in Damascus, as well as in the Lebanese cities of Beirut and Tripoli, ran into the street on foot and took to their cars to get away from their buildings in case of collapses, witnesses said.


“Paintings fell off the walls in the house,” said Samer, a resident of Damascus, the Syrian capital. “I woke up terrified. Now we’re all dressed and standing at the door.”

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