On Monday, a huge earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9 slammed the center of Turkey and northwest Syria. The tremor caused buildings all across the snowy region to collapse, which resulted in the death of hundreds of people and sparked a hunt for survivors who were buried under the debris.
Cyprus and Lebanon were also affected by the earthquake, which occurred in the early hours of a winter morning and struck in the darkness. “I have never felt anything like that in the 40 years that I’ve lived,” said Erdem, a resident of the Turkish city of Gaziantep, which is close to the epicentre of the earthquake, but he declined to give his last name. Erdem was speaking about the earthquake. “We were shaken at least three times very strongly, like a baby in a crib.”
Turkey’s disaster service reported that 76 people had died and 440 others had been injured. Authorities immediately dispatched rescue teams and supply aircraft to the area that was hit, and they also declared a “level 4 emergency,” which requests assistance from the international community.
State-run media in Syria said that more than one hundred people had been killed and hundreds injured as a result of the unrest. The majority of fatalities were reported in the provinces of Hama, Aleppo, and Latakia, where multiple buildings had been destroyed.
A member of the White Helmets rescue organization was heard saying in a video clip shared on Twitter that “The situation is very tragic, tens of buildings have collapsed in the city of Salqin,” Salqin is a town located approximately 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the Turkish border.
The rescue worker in the video, which displayed a neighborhood covered in rubble, stated that the homes were “completely devastated.” During the roughly 12 years that the civil war in Syria has been going on, many buildings in the region have already been damaged by the fighting.
According to witnesses, residents of Damascus, as well as the towns of Beirut and Tripoli in Lebanon, fled into the streets and into their vehicles in order to get away from their homes in the event that the buildings they lived in collapsed.
Erdem also reported that many had evacuated their trembling homes in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, and that they were too afraid to return.
Erdem stated over the phone that everyone was either sitting in their vehicles or attempting to drive to open areas that were distant from buildings. “Everybody is sitting in their cars or trying to drive to open spaces away from buildings,”
According to a tweet posted by the national security adviser for the White House, Jake Sullivan, the United States was “profoundly worried” about the earthquake that occurred in Turkey and Syria and was actively following events.
“I have been in touch with Turkish officials to relay that we stand ready to provide any and all needed assistance,” he said. Due to the presence of seismic fault lines in the area, earthquakes are common in this part of the world.
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FOCUS ON SEARCH AND RESCUE
According to a witness who spoke to Reuters in Diyarbakir, which is located 350 kilometers (218 miles) to the east, the earthquake lasted for around one minute and smashed windows. A security officer in that city stated that at least 17 buildings were destroyed.
According to the authorities, 16 buildings were destroyed in Sanliurfa, while 34 were destroyed in Osmaniye.
It was still dark in the city of Kahramanmaras when the broadcasters TRT and Haberturk presented footage of people searching among the rubble of destroyed buildings, carrying stretchers, and looking for those who could have survived the earthquake.
According to Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu’s statements to reporters, “Our primary job is to carry out the search and rescue work and to do that all our teams are on alert,”
The German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) reported that the earthquake occurred at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), and the EMSC monitoring agency said that it was determining whether or not a tsunami was likely as a result of the tremor.
After the main quake, which the United States Geological Survey (USGS) measured to have a magnitude of 7.8 on its scale, there were a number of aftershocks that were registered. A tremor with a magnitude of 6.7 occurred in Gaziantep, while another quake with a magnitude of 5.6 occurred in the Nurdag neighborhood of the city.
Near the city of Kahramanmaras and the bigger city of Gaziantep, in close proximity to the border with Syria, the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) estimated that the magnitude of the earthquake was 7.4. Tremors were also felt in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, which is about 460 kilometers (286 miles) to the northwest of the epicenter. On Cyprus, however, police claimed that there was no damage caused by the earthquake.
“The earthquake struck in a region that we feared. There is serious widespread damage,” Kerem Kinik, the chief of the Turkish Red Crescent relief agency, told Haberturk, issuing an appeal for blood donations.
Turkey has often ranked among the nations that are most at risk for earthquakes. Izmit, a city located southeast of Istanbul, was rocked by an earthquake of 7.6 magnitude in 1999, which claimed the lives of more than 17,000 people. More than 500 people were murdered when an earthquake struck the city of Van in the east in 2011.
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