A powerful, 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit southern Turkey and northern Syria in the early morning of Monday, February 6th. The earthquake is responsible for a constantly rising death toll that has claimed over 37,000 at the time of writing.
According to Turkey’s disaster agency, at least 31,645 people were reported dead in the country. In Syria, 5,714 people were reported dead in the country, which is also going through conflict.
Thousands of buildings collapsed while people were sleeping. Thousands of people were injured and trapped under the collapsed buildings in both countries. The number of deaths and injuries is likely to increase during rescue operations.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that rescue operations were launched as soon as news of the earthquake broke. “I convey my best wishes to all our citizens who were affected by the earthquake that occurred in Kahramanmaras and was felt in many parts of our country,” Erdogan tweeted. “We also coordinate the works initiated after the earthquake. We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage, and we continue our work.”
The earthquake occurred 20 miles from the city of Gaziantep and its tremors were felt in several areas of Turkey, causing death and destruction. The earthquake was powerful enough to cause tremors in other countries such as; Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Lebanon. It is reported by Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority that over 100 aftershocks were felt in the aftermath of the earthquake. Ten minutes after the earthquake occurred, a massive aftershock at 6.7 magnitude was felt. The earthquake has caused so much death, destruction, and chaos, Turkey was forced to declare a level 4 alarm, which is practically a call for help from other countries.
Several countries have offered their assistance to the disaster-stricken areas. United States President Joe Biden directed USAID to look at ways people affected by the earthquake can be assisted. “I have directed my team to continue to closely monitor the situation in coordination with Turkey and provide any and all needed assistance,” the president tweeted after he had said how saddened he was by the disaster.
India announced it would be sending two teams from its disaster response force. The teams will be made up of 100 specially trained and equipped personnel. Poland will be sending 76 firemen with 8 dogs. Russia, Spain, and Taiwan announced they would be sending people to help along with aid. According to reports, over 45 nations have pledged their support.
The situation took a turn for the worst when it was reported hours after the initial earthquake that another had struck the same area. The United States Geological Survey announced that a 7.5 magnitude had hit the same area, making rescue efforts more difficult.
United Nations Aid Chief Martin Griffiths announced that, at least in Syria, rescue efforts were beginning to “come to a close” as the aid focus shifts more toward supplying food and shelter to those rescued.
Turkey is situated in a region on or very close to several fault lines known as the East Anatolian fault. It is known as a dangerous and unstable area, infamous for being the world’s most active earthquake zone.