Earthquake Ripping Through Turkey and Syria Kills 2,300

By Starrys Obazei | February 6, 2023,with agency report.

More than 2,300 people died and rescuers were racing to pull survivors from beneath the rubble after a devastating earthquake ripped through Turkey and Syria, leaving destruction and debris on each side of the border. 

Thousands more were injured as the 7.8-magnitude quake shook residents from their beds around 4 a.m. Monday, sending tremors as far away as Lebanon and Israel, CNN reports. 

The earthquake’s epicenter was 23 kilometers (14.2 miles) east of Nurdagi, in Turkey’s Gaziantep province, at a depth of 24.1 kilometers (14.9 miles), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said. 

The quake is believed to be the strongest to hit Turkey since 1939, when an earthquake of the same magnitude killed 30,000 people, according to the USGS. 

Video from the scene in Turkey showed day breaking over rows of collapsed buildings, some with apartments exposed to the elements as people huddled in the cold beside them, waiting for help. 

In Turkey, at least 1,498 people have died and several thousand are injured, according to the country’s Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD).

In neighboring Syria, at least 820 have died. According to the Syrian state news agency SANA, 430 people have died across government-controlled areas, mostly in the regions of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia, and Tartus.

The “White Helmets” group, officially known as the Syria Civil Defense, reported 390 deaths in opposition-controlled areas. Much of northwestern Syria, which borders Turkey, is controlled by anti-government forces amid a bloody civil war that began in 2011.

People in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv reported feeling the shaking early Monday morning and Israeli police said they had received more than 3,000 such reports. In Lebanon, people on social media reported being woken up by shaking buildings, bringing back memories of the devastating 2020 Beirut blast. 

Earthquakes of this magnitude are rare, with fewer than five occurring each year on average, anywhere in the world. Seven quakes with magnitude 7.0 or greater have struck Turkey in the past 25 years – but Monday’s is the most powerful. 

Karl Lang, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech university’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, told CNN the area hit by the quake Monday is prone to seismic activity. “It’s a very large fault zone, but this is a larger earthquake than they’ve experienced any time in recent memory,” Lang said.

‘It felt like it would never be over 

Journalist Eyad Kourdi, who lives in Gaziantep and was staying with his parents when the earthquake struck early Monday, said “it felt like it would never be over.” 

When the shaking stopped, Kourdi and his parents walked out of their home still wearing their pajamas, he said. 

With several inches of snow on the ground, they waited outside in the rain for about 30 minutes before he could go back inside to grab coats and boots. 

Photos showing the true scale of the disaster emerged as a day broke in Turkey. Entire buildings were flattened, with metal rods scattered across the streets. Cars have toppled over, while bulldozers work to clear the debris. 

Gaziantep Castle has been heavily damaged in the quake. 

Gaziantep province has a number of small and medium-sized cities, with a sizable refugee population, according to Brookings Institute fellow Asli Aydintasbas. 

“Some of these areas are rather poor. Some are richer, urban areas … but other parts that we’re talking about that seem to have been devastated, are relatively lower income areas,” she said. 

A winter storm in the region is exacerbating the disaster, according to CNN meteorologists. 

“Hundreds of thousands of people are impacted by this. It is cold. It is rainy. Roads could be impacted, that means your food, your livelihood, the care for your children, the care for your family,” CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis said. 

“Anything as far as crops or anything growing across this region will be impacted as well. The ramifications of this are broad and will impact this region for weeks, and months.” 

Nearly 1,000 search and rescue volunteers have been deployed from Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, along with dogs, trucks, and aid, according to its governor, Ali Yerlikaya.

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