Earthquake in Turkey: Nearly 200 people died as a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the south of the country
Nearly 200 Many people have been killed in two countries after one of the strongest earthquakes to hit Turkey in more than 100 years sent shockwaves across the region, collapsing buildings and sending residents into the streets.
The magnitude 7.8 quake struck just after 4 a.m. local time Monday, 23 kilometers (14.2 miles) east of Nurdagi, Gaziantep Province, at a depth of 24.1 km (14.9 mi), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said. Nurdagi is located along the Turkish-Syrian border and the earthquake was felt in several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon.
At least 76 people were killed and more than 440 were injured in the Turkeyaccording to the country’s disaster management agency AFAD.
In neighboring Syria, at least 111 people died and more than 500 were injured, Syrian State Television cited the Ministry of Health. The deaths were reported in Aleppo, Latakia, Hama and Tartus.
Dozens of people are trapped under the rubble, according to the White Helmets group, officially known as the Syrian Civil Defense, a humanitarian organization set up to rescue those wounded in the conflict. Much of northwestern Syria, bordering Turkey, was controlled by anti-government forces during a bloody civil war that began in 2011.
The quake struck before dawn on Monday, when residents were likely asleep and unprepared for the impact. Video from Turkey shared on social media showed dozens of buildings collapsing, while frightened residents cowered on dark streets amid the chaos. Rescuers can be seen conducting search and rescue operations with flashlights.
According to the USGS, Monday’s quake is believed to be the strongest to hit Turkey since 1939, when an earthquake of similar magnitude killed 30,000 people. Earthquakes of this magnitude are rare, with fewer than five on average occurring each year anywhere in the world. Seven earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater have hit Turkey in the past 25 years – but Monday’s was the strongest.
Karl Lang, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, told CNN that the area hit by Monday’s quake is highly susceptible to seismic activity. “It’s a very large fault zone, but this is a bigger earthquake than any they’ve experienced in recent memory,” Lang said.
Journalist Eyad Kourdi, who lives in Gaziantep and was staying with his parents when the quake struck early Monday morning, said “it feels like it will never end.”
When the shaking stopped, Kourdi and his parents walked out of the house, still in their pajamas, he said.
With several inches of snow on the ground, they waited out in the rain for about 30 minutes before he could go back inside to get his coat and boots.
Strong aftershocks were felt in southern and central Turkey. About 11 minutes after the main quake struck, the strongest aftershock of 6.7 on the Richter scale struck about 32 kilometers (20 mi) northwest of the epicenter. Another powerful aftershock with a magnitude of 5.6 occurred 19 minutes after the main quake.
Kourdi said there were eight “very strong” aftershocks less than a minute after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck, sending furniture in his home to the ground. He said many of his neighbors had left their homes after the quake.
The photos show the true scale of the disaster unfolding in broad daylight in Turkey. Entire buildings have been razed, with metal bars scattered across the street.
Cars toppled over, while bulldozers worked to clear debris.
A winter storm in the area is exacerbating the disaster, according to CNN meteorologists.
“Hundreds of thousands of people are affected by this. Cold weather. It rains. Roads can be affected, which means your food, your livelihood, taking care of your children, taking care of your family,” said CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis.
“Everything like crops or whatever is growing in this area will also be affected. The ramifications of this are wide and will impact the region for weeks and months.”
Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said search and rescue teams had been sent to the south of the country. AFAD, the disaster agency, said it had requested international help through the Emergency Response Coordination Center (ERCC), the European Union’s humanitarian programme.
Nearly 1,000 search and rescue volunteers have been deployed from Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, according to governor Ali Yerlikaya.
“80 AFAD (emergency disaster response) officers, 27 cities and accredited NGOs, 968 Search and Rescue volunteers, 4 K9 dogs, 2 trucks and materials aid has been sent to the earthquake affected area,” Yerlikaya wrote on Twitter.
“Sorry for our loss. I wish our wounded a speedy recovery.”
Gaziantep Governor Davut Gul wrote on Twitter that “our city felt the earthquake well,” and advised residents to wait outside their homes and stay calm.
“Wait outside without panicking. Let’s not use our car. Let’s not be crowded on the main roads. Let’s not keep the phone busy,” he said.
According to Asli Aydintasbas, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, Gaziantep province has a number of small and medium-sized cities, with a sizable refugee population.
“Some of these areas are quite poor. Some urban areas are richer… but the others we’re talking about seem to have been devastated, being relatively lower income areas,” she said.
Video from the city of Diyarbakir, northeast of Gaziantep, shows rescuers frantically trying to pull survivors out of the rubble.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the quake had been felt in many parts of the country.
“I extend my best wishes to all of our citizens who were affected by the earthquake that hit Kahramanmaraş and can be felt in many parts of our country. All our relevant units are on alert under the coordination of AFAD,” Erdogan wrote on Twitter.