“As the death toll from one of the worst earthquakes to hit Turkey in 100 years surged past 1000 people, rescuers are scurrying to find survivors buried beneath rubble on either side of the Turkey-Syrian border.
Around 4 a.m. on Monday, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that had tremors as far away as Lebanon and Israel scared residents out of their beds and resulted in thousands more injuries.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the epicenter of the earthquake was 24.1 kilometers (14.9 miles) beneath the surface, 23 kilometers (14.2 miles) east of Nurdagi in Turkey’s Gaziantep province.
Video from the site in Turkey showed people waiting for assistance as day broke over rows of collapsed buildings, some with apartments exposed to the elements.
According to Vice President Fuat Oktay, at least 284 people have died and more than 2,300 have been injured in Turkey. At least 386 people perished in neighboring Syria, principally in Aleppo, Hama, Latakia, and Tartus, according to Syrian official television.
Additionally, the “White Helmets” organization—officially known as the Syria Civil Defense—reported at least 147 fatalities in northwest Syria’s opposition-held regions. In the midst of a violent civil conflict that started in 2011, anti-government forces control a large portion of northwest Syria, which borders Turkey.
According to the USGS, Monday’s earthquake is thought to be the largest to hit Turkey since 1939, when an earthquake of the same magnitude killed 30,000 people. Less than five earthquakes of this magnitude occur annually.
According to Karl Lang, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech University’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, the earthquake-prone region was affected on Monday. It’s a very big fault zone, but this is the biggest earthquake they’ve had recently, according to Lang.
“It seemed like it would never end.”
The earthquake has also affected neighboring Syria, with reports of damage and casualties coming from the city of Raqqa and other towns in the northern part of the country. The Syrian government has also pledged to provide assistance to those affected by the quake.
The region is no stranger to earthquakes, but this is one of the deadliest to strike in recent years. The last major earthquake to hit the area was in 2011 when a magnitude 7.2 quake struck the eastern city of Van and killed more than 500 people.
This latest earthquake serves as a stark reminder of the need for better disaster preparedness and response in the region. In the coming days and weeks, it is likely that the full extent of the damage and the number of casualties will become clearer. In the meantime, our thoughts are with the families of those who have lost their lives and with the communities that have been affected by this devastating disaster.