At Least 2,700 Dead After Massive Earthquake Strikes Turkey

Posted: February 6, 2023 2:45 pm

Weather Will Not Make Search and Recovery Efforts Easier

At least 2,700 people are believed to be dead with thousands of more injuries after a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake rattled the southern tier of Turkey near the country’s border with Syria. Here is the latest on the devastating earthquake and the search and rescue efforts.

Details of Turkey Earthquake

The quake happened just after 4 am local time on Monday. According to reports coming from the region, more than 2,800 buildings were brought down in both Turkey and Syria as a result of the initial earthquake and the following aftershocks. The death toll continues to climb by Monday evening as the search for survivors goes into the night.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake hit about 14 miles east of the city of Nurdagi in the Gaziantep province of Turkey. There are about 1 million people that live in this populated part of the country. The quake struck at a depth of about 15 miles.

A number of dangerous aftershocks shook the area in the minutes following the initial earthquake. A 6.7 magnitude quake hit just 10 minutes after the first jolt. Another 5.6 magnitude trembler hit shortly after that with an additional 7.5 magnitude aftershock striking on Monday afternoon about 2.5 miles southeast of Ekinözü, Turkey. Officials have counted at least 44 aftershocks in the hours following the initial earthquake.

Burak Kara/Getty Images News via Getty Images

Political Response

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan heralded the unity of his country as they work to dig out from the rubble. He declared a national period of mourning for seven days, ordering flags to fly at half-mast until sunset on February 12.

President U.S. Joe Biden pledged support to Turkey and Syria, saying that his administration is working with officials on the ground to support those impacted by the disaster. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed American support with its Turkish allies and humanitarian partners in war-torn Syria.



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The World Health Organization (WHO) said that it was standing by ready to lend help to the Turkish Ministry of Health in what is sure to be a significant humanitarian response. The organization said that it is deploying its emergency medical teams to provide care to those in need. The WHO also said that it is concerned about the onset of nightfall with temperatures dropping to below freezing in the coming days. Widespread power outages will also complicate the recovery efforts.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is sounding the alarm specifically about the parts of Syria impacted by the earthquake. According to OCHA, the majority of those Syrians are women and children already dealing with a significant humanitarian crisis. These communities have been battling an ongoing cholera outbreak.

Notable Damage Reported

The pictures and videos of the damage is streaming in across social media. Videos show high rise buildings being reduced to rubble. First responders are working feverishly to pull out survivors as the aftershocks complicate the situation by adding to the wreckage.

The Hatay Airport in southwestern Turkey sustained serious damage with a large tear spreading down the airport’s only runway. The historical Gaziantep Castle also experienced severe damage. The retaining wall positioned adjacent to the main castle collapsed with iron railings falling to the ground near the building.

The earthquake was felt as far as Cairo, Egypt. Other areas that observed light shaking included the Turkish capital of Ankara and in parts of Tel Aviv, Israel and in Lebanon.

Weather Impacts of Recovery Efforts

Mother Nature will not be doing rescue workers any favors in the coming days. A storm is moving over the epicenter of the quake in the Gaziantep province on Monday, ushering in steady rain that is almost certainly going to hamper the search for survivors. Snow may also fall in some parts of the damaged region.

The good news is that the area around Gaziantep and northern Syria will see drier conditions for the remainder of the week. However, cold temperatures will make it more difficult for those trapped within the rubble to survive.

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