Hundreds of Dead after a Massive Earthquake in Turkey (UPDATED)

World | February 6, 2023, Monday // 07:51
Bulgaria: Hundreds of Dead after a Massive Earthquake in Turkey (UPDATED) @Twitter

More than 1500 people have died in Syria and Turkey as a result of a powerful earthquake near the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep early this morning.

The Syrian Ministry of Health confirmed the death of at least 237 people in the areas under the control of President Bashar al-Assad, the world agencies reported.

The number of injured exceeded 600.

The death toll is expected to continue to rise.

The AP reported at least 20 dead in the rebel-held northwestern Syrian province of Idlib.

Many of the buildings in the areas that were affected by the earthquake suffered damage during the conflict that broke out nearly 12 years ago in Syria, notes Reuters.

Trains in the northern part of the country have been stopped as a precaution. Roads and bridges are being checked, the state news agency SANA reported, as quoted by TASS.

Aftershocks are at least 20.

At the moment, there are no reports of injured Bulgarian citizens after the strong earthquake in South-Eastern Turkey, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The epicenter was 27 km from the city of Gaziantep and was at a depth of 18 km, with the first strong tremor recorded at 04:17 a.m. local time. It was followed by a series of strong aftershocks measuring over 6.0 on the Richter scale.

Turkish authorities mobilized rescue teams. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said cargo planes were being prepared to send equipment and humanitarian supplies to the city of Kahramanmaras, while declaring a "level 4 emergency" requiring international assistance.

Early statements from Turkish officials put the death toll at at least 50 in Turkey's Malatya province, 17 in Şanlıurfa, 6 in Diyarbakır and another 5 in Osmaniye, Reuters said. To the south across the border in Syria, state media reported that 42 people had been killed.

The first powerful quake lasted about a minute, an eyewitness told Reuters in Diyarbakır, 350 km to the east, where a security official said at least 17 buildings had collapsed.

Local authorities reported that 16 buildings collapsed in Şanlıurfa and 34 in Osmaniye.

Turkish broadcasters TRT and Haberturk showed footage of people digging through the remains of the building, moving stretchers and searching for survivors in Kahramanmaras, which was the epicenter of the very strong earthquake

Turkish television showed shocked people standing in the snow in their pajamas as rescuers dug through the rubble of damaged homes.

The German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) said the quake struck at a depth of 10 km, while the monitoring service EMSC said it was assessing the risk of a tsunami.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) reported a series of aftershocks after the initial quake, which the institute said had a magnitude of 7.8.

The Turkish emergency center AFAD determined the magnitude of the first earthquake at 7.4 on the Richter scale.

Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD) put the quake at 7.4 on the Richter scale near Kahramanmaras and the larger city of Gaziantep, near the border with Syria.

"Sending my best wishes to all our citizens who were affected by the earthquake," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted. "We hope that together we will overcome this disaster as soon as possible and with the least damage."

Naci Gorur, an earthquake expert at the Turkish Academy of Sciences, called on local authorities to immediately check the region's dams for cracks to prevent potentially catastrophic flooding.

Syrian state media reported that a large number of buildings had collapsed in Aleppo province, while a source in Hama's civil service said several buildings had collapsed there.

People in Damascus and the Lebanese cities of Beirut and Tripoli ran into the streets to escape their buildings in case they collapsed, witnesses said.

Syrian state television reported that a building near Latakia, on Syria's west coast, had collapsed.

Pro-government media reported that several buildings had partially collapsed in Hama, central Syria, as civil defense and firefighters worked to pull survivors from the rubble.

Raed Ahmed, who heads Syria's National Earthquake Center, told pro-government radio that it was "historically the biggest earthquake recorded in the center's history."

Tremors were also felt in the Turkish capital Ankara, 460 km northwest of the epicenter, and in Cyprus, where police said there was no damage.

Turkey is in one of the most active earthquake zones in the world

Turkey's Duzce region suffered a magnitude 7.4 earthquake in 1999, the worst to hit Turkey in decades.

This earthquake killed more than 17,000 people, including about 1,000 in Istanbul.

Experts have long warned that a major earthquake could devastate Istanbul, allowing widespread construction without precautions.

A magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck Elazig in January 2020, killing more than 40 people.

And in October of that year, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Turkey's Aegean coast, killing 114 people and injuring more than 1,000.

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Tags: turkey, Earthquake, magnitude, Turkish

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