Two powerful earthquakes hit southern Turkey and northern Syria on Monday, killing more than 3,600 people as it toppled buildings and triggered a frantic search for survivors in the rubble in cities and towns across the area.
The powerful quake was strongly felt in Lebanon and Cyprus and caused panic there as it lasted for forty seconds. According to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center, the quake was also felt in Palestine, Egypt, Georgia, Romania.
The US Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.8 earthquake was centered about 33km (20 miles) from Gaziantep, a major city and provincial capital in central Turkey. It was about 18km (11 miles) deep, with a 7.5 quake hitting in the same region hours later amid several aftershocks.
The morning quake was followed by dozens of aftershocks, with the strongest one having a magnitude of 6.6.
The massive quakes killed 2,600 people and injured more than 12,000 others in Turkey, the country’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority announced.
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan put the death toll at 912 people.
“So far, 912 people have died and 5,385 people have been injured, 2,470 people have been rescued,” Erdogan said.
The City of İskenderun in Southern Turkey has suffered some of the most Severe Damage caused by the Earthquake, there are reports that Fire and Rescue Crews are unable to get to many parts of the City with 100s if not 1000s of people expected to still be under collapsed buildings pic.twitter.com/kMV2hgEBXZ
— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) February 6, 2023
Ankara received assistance offers from over 45 countries after the earthquake, the Turkish president said, adding that more than 9,000 people are involved in rescue operations.
The earthquake of 7.7 magnitude that occurred in Turkey on Monday was the most powerful since 1939, Erdogan said.
“Tonight… we experienced the most powerful disaster that we have experienced in the last century after the earthquake in Erzincan in 1939,” Erdogan said, speaking from the office for the coordination of work to eliminate the consequences of the earthquake.
In Syria, already devastated by more than 11 years of foreign-backed insurgency, the quake has killed 1083 people and injured 3,000 others in provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama and Tartus, Syrian Health Ministry said in a statement.
President Bashar al-Assad was holding an emergency cabinet meeting to review the damage and discuss the next steps, his office said.
“Syria on Monday, February 6th, witnessed a devastating earthquake of 7.7 magnitude that claimed the lives of hundreds of people and the injury of thousands, in addition to the collapse of tens of residential buildings,” Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said in a statement.
Raed Ahmed, who heads Syria’s National Earthquake Center, told pro-government radio that this was “historically, the biggest earthquake recorded in the history of the center”. It was also the most powerful earthquake in Turkey since 1999, when a 7.4 magnitude earthquake killed over 17,000.
The video below, circulated on social media shows a building in Syria’s Aleppo collapsing moments after the first quake on Monday morning.
In Lebanon, quake jolted residents in Tripoli, Beirut and several cities from beds, shaking buildings for about 40 seconds. Panicked residents reported on social media that they were woken up from sleep by the strong quake as many took to the streets or drove in their cars away from buildings in several regions despite the bad weather.
Caretaker PM Najib Mikati tasked Minister of Public Works Ali Hamieh to contact Syrian authorities and offer aid following the quake.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered Russia’s assistance to Syria after Monday’s devastating earthquake, the Kremlin press service said after Putin’s phone call with his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad.
“Putin expressed sincere condolences over the consequences of the earthquake in northern Syria resulting in numerous human casualties and offered assistance to the Syrian side,” it said.
“Bashar Assad accepted this offer with gratitude and Russian emergencies ministry’s rescuers will leave for Syria within hours,” it said.
Earlier, Putin sent telegrams of condolences to Assad and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.