Over 500 killed in Turkey, Syria as strong 7.8 magnitude quake brings down dozens of buildings
More than 500 people died after a powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit near Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey on Monday. At least 284 people died Monday in Turkey and another 237 are so far reported killed in Syria. The toll is likely to rise higher due to the heavy damage.
Turkey’s Vice President said 284 people were killed and hundreds other were injured. The toll from the earthquake in Syria has risen to more than 237 dead, and 600 wounded, a senior health official has told state media.
The quake struck at 04:17 am local time (0117 GMT) at a depth of about 17.9 kilometres (11 miles). According to AFAD, the government's disaster management agency, the quake's magnitude was 7.4. USGS reported another shallow 6.7-magnitude quake occurring near the site of the first about 15 minutes after.
At least 10 cities across Turkey have been badly affected, including Gaziantep, Kahramanmaraş, Hatay, Osmaniye, Adiyaman, Malatya, Sanliurfa, Adana, Diyarbakir and Kilis, according to Turkey’s disaster and emergency management agency.
South across the border in Syria, Aleppo, Hama and Latakia have also been hard hit as a result of the earthquake.
After the earthquake, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, tweeted his “best wishes” to citizens affected by the earthquake which was “felt in many parts of our country”. He further shared updates on measures taken to rescue the people affected by the quake.
"I convey my best wishes to all our citizens who were affected by the earthquake that occurred in Kahramanmaraş and was felt in many parts of our country. All our relevant units are on alert under the coordination of AFAD," he tweeted in Turkey.
The President further said that search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched to the areas affected by the earthquake. Ministry of Interior and Health, AFAD, Governorships and all other institutions started their work rapidly.
Erdogan said that he hopes that the country will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage.
The southern region of Gaziantep -- one of Turkey's key industrial and manufacturing hubs -- borders Syria. The tremors were felt in Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus. Videos posted on social networks showed destroyed buildings in several cities in the southeast of the country. Several people were feared trapped under the rubble as the powerful earthquake brought down dozens of buildings.
US President Joe Biden has directed USAID and other federal government partners to assess response options to the most affected areas in the Turkey and Syria earthquake, national security advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement on Sunday.
The European-Mediterranean seismological centre’s monitoring service told Reuters it was assessing the risk of a tsunami. "Based on the data processed by the Ingv Tsunami Alert Center (CAT), the Civil Protection Department has issued an alert for possible tsunami waves arriving on the Italian coast following the earthquake of magnitude 7.9 with its epicenter between Turkey and Syria at 02.17. It is recommended to move away from the coastal areas, to reach the higher nearby area and to follow the indications of the local authorities,” it said.
Turkey prone to earthquakes
Sitting atop the Anatolian Plate, Turkey is in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones. Anatolian Plate is a block of the Earth’s crust that is slowly rotating counterclockwise and shifting west with time, moving about an inch every year. Collisions with the African plate and Eurasian plate can result in frequent earthquakes.
Düzce was one of the regions hit by a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in 1999 – the worst to hit Turkey in decades. That quake killed more than 17,000 people, including about 1,000 in Istanbul.
At least 40 people were killed when magnitude-6.8 quake hit Elazığ in January 2020 and 114 people were killed as magnitude 7.0 quake hit the Aegean Sea in October that year.