On Monday, a massive earthquake in central Turkey and northwest Syria destroyed apartment towers and wreaked more havoc on Syrian communities already ravaged by war, killing over 1,400 people and injuring hundreds.
The magnitude 7.8 winter morning quake was the worst in Turkey this century. Cyprus and Lebanon felt it. An early afternoon magnitude 7.7 quake followed.
As rescuers struggled to extract victims from rubble in frigid conditions, the second quake’s damage was unclear.
We were rocked. Home had nine people. “My two sons are still in the rubble, I’m waiting for them,” a woman with a fractured arm and facial injuries stated in an ambulance beside the wreckage of her seven-story Diyarbakir, southeast Turkey, home.
Erdogan said he could not foresee how many people might die while search and rescue efforts proceeded.
“Everyone is putting their heart and soul into efforts but winter season, cold temperature, and the earthquake occuring during the night makes things more difficult,” he stated.
The Syrian health ministry reported 326 deaths and 1,042 injuries. Rescuers reported 221 deaths in rebel-held northwest Syria.
Reuters journalists in Diyarbakir observed scores of rescue workers examining a mound of debris, all that was left of a large structure, for survivors. They occasionally raised their hands to request silence, listening for life.
Men carried a blanketed girl from a collapsing city structure.
“A loud noise and violent shaking woke us awake. “There were two aftershocks straight after that,” claimed Kahramanmaras resident Meryem, 29.
“I was afraid, thought it would never stop. I departed with my one-year-old son’s stuff.”
Twitter footage showed two Aleppo buildings collapse one after the other, filling the street with dust. Two war-damaged city residents said buildings fell in the hours after the quake.
A multi-story structure in Aleppo province’s rebel-held village of Jandaris was now a pile of concrete, steel rods, and garments.
After an earthquake in rebel-held Jandaris, rescuers scour the rubble for survivors.
12 households lived underneath. None emerged. “Not one,” remarked a slender young man with shocked eyes and a bandaged hand.
“A race against time to save the lives of those under the rubble,” said Raed Fares of the Syrian White Helmets, a rebel-held rescue group that rescues victims following air attacks.
“Like the apocalypse,” remarked Syrian Abdul Salam al Mahmoud from Atareb.
Syrian state television showed rescuers looking for survivors in severe rain and sleet. His administration said President Bashar al-Assad attended an emergency cabinet meeting to assess the damage and deliberate next moves.
Witnesses stated people in Damascus, Beirut, and Tripoli raced into the street and drove to avoid building collapses.
The Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority published footage of a rescue worker crawling through a fallen building in Malatya to find a survivor (AFAD).
What color are you wearing? Wearing pink? “Please take care of yourself for now, I cannot see anything else,” the rescuer said.
Erdogan said 45 nations have provided assistance.
White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan tweeted that the US was “profoundly concerned” about the earthquake and monitoring events. “We’ll help with anything,” he replied.
The USGS reported a 17.9 km depth for the earthquake. It registered several earthquakes, including a 6.7.
“The combination of huge magnitude and shallow depth made this earthquake extremely destructive,” said Mohammad Kashani, Associate Professor of Structural and Earthquake Engineering at Southampton.
Turkey’s worst earthquake since 1999 killed around 17,000 in Izmit and the heavily populated eastern Marmara Sea region near Istanbul.
Ankara, Turkey, and Cyprus, where police reported no damage, felt tremors.