Terrifying earthquake shakes Turkey and Syria, killing thousands

Turkey is battling a historic natural disaster after its biggest earthquake in nearly a century, flattening settlements across the country’s southeastern and northern Syria, causing thousands of deaths. thousand people died.

Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake destroyed thousands of buildings when it struck shortly after 4 a.m. local time, sending people running into the streets in near-freezing temperatures. However, a second 7.5-magnitude earthquake that struck a few hours later was even more devastating.

The impoverished areas of Syria after years of war were also hit hard by the quake, with tremors being felt as far away as Lebanon, Egypt and Israel.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: “Due to the continuing effort to clear debris from many buildings in the quake zone, we cannot know how high the death toll will be.” .

Regarding the scale of the challenge facing the nation, he described the disaster as Turkey’s “biggest disaster” since the 1939 earthquake that killed some 33,000 people.

By Monday evening, Turkish authorities said at least 1,651 people had been killed in Turkey and more than 8,500 injured, with the number bound to rise. In Syria, more than 430 people have been confirmed dead in government-controlled areas, while more than 380 civilians have been killed in opposition-controlled northwestern Syria.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday called for international support, telling a session of the General Assembly that people in the quake-hit country were “in dire need of humanitarian aid”.

Turkey has many interlaced fault lines and small tremors occur almost daily. A magnitude 7.6 earthquake hit Istanbul and the surrounding area in 1999, exposing poor building standards that contributed to the deaths of 18,000 people.

Map showing two earthquakes that hit Turkey on Monday

Monday’s quake devastated an area hundreds of kilometers from the epicenter in Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey, with dozens of aftershocks, as well as a second strong quake 60 miles away that struck early pm.

An initial Turkish assessment estimated that nearly 3,000 buildings were destroyed across the affected areas.

When Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu signaled his country was ready to accept international aid, the US, UK, Netherlands, Russia and Azerbaijan offered assistance, state media said.

The country has dispatched military and cargo planes along with supplies for the rescue effort, and the Red Crescent humanitarian agency has sent mobile kitchens, more than 1,000 tents and nearly 20,000 blankets to the area. This.

Turkey’s Islamic Relief has launched a $20 million fundraising campaign as it warns that supplies of mattresses, blankets and other bedding are in danger of running out in a matter of hours. again.

In Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, “hundreds of families” are still trapped under the rubble, according to the Syrian Civil Defense Forces, Western-backed aid workers in the area.

The region, one of the last remaining enclaves of the Syrian opposition, is home to some 4.6 million people, the majority of whom need humanitarian aid, according to United Nations data. Many people left their homeland after the civil war and lived in informal settlements on the outskirts of the city, in empty fields and in abandoned buildings.

Much of the region’s medical infrastructure was destroyed during the war, with hospitals often being targeted.

A video released by the Syrian American Medical Association, which supports 36 medical facilities in the northwest, shows a chaotic emergency unit at a hospital in Aleppo. “Our hospitals are flooded with patients filling the corridors,” a statement from the group said.

Syrian state television showed rescue teams searching for survivors in areas under Assad’s control, with health officials asking the public to help rescue neighbors and bring them in. to the hospital.

Munsef Hamoud, an elderly man living on the outskirts of Aleppo, said: “I think the room was about to fall on our heads, the house shook very hard. “Several houses collapsed in our neighborhood and we heard people screaming from under the rubble.”


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