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More than 2,200 people were killed in a strong earthquake in Turkey and Syria, and bad weather exacerbated the ordeal

More than 2,200 people were killed in a strong earthquake in Turkey and Syria, and bad weather exacerbated the ordeal


An earthquake strikes central Turkey and northwestern Syria, the death toll is about 1,500 in Turkey and more than 700 in Syria

ADANA, Turkey/Damascus (Reuters) – A massive earthquake killed more than 2,200 people and injured thousands more on Monday in Turkey and northwest Syria, flattening apartment buildings and wreaking more havoc on Syrian cities already devastated by years of war.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which struck just before sunrise in severe winter weather, was the worst to hit Turkey this century. It was followed in the early afternoon by another earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale.

It was not immediately clear how much damage was caused by the second quake, which was felt across the region like the first and endangered rescuers struggling to pull victims from the rubble.

There were nine of us in the house. My two sons are still under the rubble,” said a woman with a broken arm and injuries to her face. An ambulance near the wreckage of the seven-storey building where she lived in Diyarbakir, in southeastern Turkey.

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The disaster management agency put the death toll in Turkey at 1,498. At least 716 people have been killed in Syria, according to Damascus government and United Nations figures.

Poor internet connections and damaged roads between some of the most affected cities in southern Turkey, and the homes of millions of people, have hampered efforts to assess and address the impact.

Temperatures in some areas are expected to drop to near freezing overnight, worsening conditions for people trapped under the rubble or left homeless. It was raining on Monday after snowstorms ravaged the country for the weekend.

It is already the highest earthquake death toll in Turkey since 1999, when an earthquake of similar magnitude devastated the densely populated eastern Marmara Sea region near Istanbul, killing more than 17,000 people.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is preparing for tough elections in May, described what happened as a historic disaster and the worst earthquake to hit Turkey since 1939, but said the authorities were doing all they could.

“Everyone puts their heart and soul into their efforts, although the winter season, the cold weather and the earthquake that occurs during the night makes things more difficult,” he said.

Turkish state television station TRT showed the collapse of a building in the southern province of Adana after the second earthquake. It was not immediately clear if he had been evacuated.

In Syria, already ravaged by more than 11 years of civil war, the health ministry said 461 people had been killed and more than 1,326 wounded. In rebel-held northwest Syria, a UN spokesman said 255 people had been killed.

The Norwegian Refugee Council said the earthquake will only increase the suffering of millions of Syrians already suffering from a humanitarian crisis due to the civil war.

And in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir, Reuters journalists saw dozens of rescue workers sifting through a pile of rubble and whatever was left of a large building and removing bits of debris as they searched for survivors. From time to time they raise their hands and pray to calm down and listen to the sounds of life.

Men carried a girl wrapped in blankets from a collapsed building in the city. In Izmir, drone footage showed rescue workers standing on top of a hill of rubble where a building once stood, working to lift construction panels.

Footage circulated on Twitter showed two nearby buildings collapsing one after the other in the Syrian city of Aleppo, filling the street with rising dust.

Two residents of the city, which was badly damaged in the war, said buildings fell in the hours after the quake, which was felt in Cyprus and Lebanon.

[1/27] People search for survivors in the rubble following the earthquake that struck Diyarbakir, Turkey, February 6, 2023. REUTERS/Sirtak Kayar


In the Syrian rebel-held town of Jandris in Aleppo province, a pile of concrete, iron bars and bundles of clothes lay where a multi-storey building once stood.

“There were 12 families there,” said a skinny young man with his eyes wide open in shock and his hand bandaged.

Raed Fares of the Syrian White Helmets, a rescue service in opposition-held territory known for pulling people from the rubble of buildings destroyed by airstrikes, said they were in a “race against time to save the lives of those under the rubble”.

Abdul Salam al-Mahmoud, a Syrian from the town of Atarib, said it felt like “the end of the world”.

A spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in northwest Syria said that the death toll is expected to increase in northwest Syria.

“It just adds to all the layers of suffering,” said Madivi Sun Soon, a spokesperson for the organization.

In the Syrian government-held city of Hama, a Reuters journalist saw a seemingly lifeless child being carried from the rubble of a building.

Syrian state television showed rescue teams searching for survivors in heavy rain and frost. President Bashar al-Assad’s office said an emergency cabinet meeting was to discuss the damage and discuss next steps.

In the Turkish city of Malatya, a rescue worker crawled into a collapsed building, trying to identify a survivor trapped under the rubble, in footage released by the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).

The rescue worker was heard saying: “What color are you wearing? Are you wearing pink? Please take care of yourself at the moment, I can’t see anything else.”

Footage broadcast by CNNTurk showed that the historic Gaziantep Citadel was severely destroyed.

Help offers

Erdogan said 45 countries had offered to help with the search and rescue efforts.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the United States was “very concerned” about the quake and stood ready to help.

The US Geological Survey said the quake occurred at a depth of 17.9 kilometres. It reported a series of earthquakes with a magnitude of 6.7.

The region straddles seismic fault lines.

“The combination of the great magnitude and shallow depth made this earthquake so devastating,” said Mohammad Kashani, Associate Professor of Structural and Earthquake Engineering at the University of Southampton.

Additional reporting by Umit Ozdal in Diyarbakir, Ezge Erkoyun in Istanbul and Nevzat Difranoglu in Ankara, Maya Gebeili in Beirut, Suleiman Al-Khalidi in Amman, Jonathan Spicer and Darren Butler in Istanbul, and Dominic Evans and Josephine Mason in London; Written by Jonathan Spicer, Robert Purcell, Tom Perry, and Dominic Evans; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Angus McSwan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.




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