On Monday, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria claimed about 200 lives, destroyed several houses while people were still sleeping, and caused tremors that could be felt as far away as Egypt and the island of Cyprus.
Turkish emergency service authorities first reported 76 fatalities, but they warned that number might rise sharply because the accident, which occurred at night, had destroyed dozens of apartment buildings around major cities.
The epicenter region is home to millions of refugees and IDPs, many of whom live in tents & makeshift structures. This is the absolute nightmare scenario for them. And it’s winter. pic.twitter.com/oACzWYtWb2
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) February 6, 2023
According to state media and a nearby hospital, at least 111 people also perished in Syria’s government- and pro-Turkish factions-held northern regions.
People in Turkey were shown in television footage standing in the snow in their pyjamas as they watched rescuers search through the wreckage of destroyed homes.
According to the US agency, the earthquake occurred at 04:17 local time (0117 GMT) at a depth of roughly 17.9 kilometres (11 miles), and 15 minutes later, a 6.7-magnitude aftershock occurred.
The initial earthquake’s magnitude was estimated by Turkey’s AFAD emergency service centre to be 7.4.
The quake was among the strongest to strike the area in at least a century.
“I convey my best wishes to all our citizens who were affected by the earthquake,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted.
“We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage.”
The earthquake destroyed scores of structures in important southern Turkish cities as well as in the neighbouring country of Syria, which has been plagued by turmoil for more than ten years and is home to millions of displaced people.
Rescuers were seen sifting through the wreckage of demolished buildings in the cities of Karamanmaras and Gaziantep in images that appeared on Turkish television and social media.
Turkey is located in one of the seismically active regions of the planet. The biggest earthquake to strike Turkey in decades struck the Turkish area of Duzce in 1999, measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale. Over 17,000 individuals were killed in that earthquake, including about 1,000 in Istanbul. Experts have long cautioned that Istanbul, which has permitted extensive building without safety safeguards, may be completely destroyed by a huge earthquake. In January 2020, a magnitude-6.8 earthquake struck Elazig, killing around 40 people. Additionally, a magnitude-7.0 earthquake that struck Turkey’s Aegean coast in October of that same year left more than 1,000 people injured.
(with AFP inputs)