Death count in thousands, families crushed in their sleep after earthquake rocked Turkey, Syria

More than 1,000 people have been reported dead so far after a pre-dawn earthquake felt as far as Egypt rocked Turkey and Syria, toppling hundreds of buildings and leaving rescuers working to locate countless individuals trapped in the rubble.

Reuters reported early Monday that “more than 1,400 people were killed and thousands injured.”

Data gathered from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) indicated the initial quake measured at 7.8 on the Richter Scale from 11 miles below the surface at 4:17 a.m. local time. The epicenter was approximated north of the provincial capital of Gaziantep, Turkey, a city of 2 million, 60 miles north of the Syrian border.

At least 40 aftershocks have been reported including one measured at 6.7 within 10 minutes of the strongest quake that took down nearly 900 buildings in the Gaziantep and Kahramanmaras provinces alone.

“A second earthquake of 7.6 magnitude struck southern Turkey on Monday, within 12 hours of a first massive quake that already claimed hundreds of Turkish and Syrian lives, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority,” CNBC reported.

In Syria, officials reported most of the victims were located in Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartus and destruction continued to be wrought in the region well after the onset.

Warning: Graphic

Image: USGS

Turkish President Recep Erdogan took to Twitter later Monday to provide updates on actions taken and noted, “We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage, and we continue our work.”

Around 2,800 rescue teams were deployed in Turkey alone. Journalism student Muhmammet Fatih Yavus reported to the Associated Press that in the city of Adana, Turkey a resident recounted hearing a survivor from beneath the rubble crying out, “I don’t have the strength anymore.”

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar released a statement on military involvement in search and rescue operations that said, “We [mobilized] our planes to send medical teams, search and rescue teams and their vehicles to the earthquake zone.”

However, the extent of the damage remained wholly inestimable at such early stages and Kahramanmaras Governor Omer Faruk Coskun said, “It is not possible to give the number of dead and injured at the moment because so many building have been destroyed. The damage is serious.”

Meanwhile, other nations reacted to the news with assurances of aid that included a statement from White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan who tweeted “The U.S. is profoundly concerned by today’s destructive earthquake in Turkiye & Syria. I have been in touch with Turkish officials to relay that we stand ready to provide any & all needed assistance. We will continue to closely monitor the situation in coordination with Turkiye.”

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak offered his thoughts for the people affected, “particularly with those first responders working so valiantly to save those trapped by the earthquake,” and his Foreign Secretary James Cleverly announced, “Tragic loss of life in the Turkey and Syria earthquake. Our condolences go to the families of those who died and our thoughts are with the survivors. The UK stands ready to provide assistance.”

The last significant earthquake to strike the region was measured at 7.0 in 2020 in the Aegean Sea killing at least 57 and injuring nearly 1,000 more throughout Turkey and Greece. A 7.4-magnitude quake struck Turkey in 1999 taking the lives of more than 17,000.


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Kevin Haggerty


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