Back-to-Back Earthquakes Leave More Than 2,000 Dead in Turkey and Northern Syria

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Two powerful earthquakes on Feb. 6 left at least 1,651 people dead in southern Turkey and another 910 dead in northern Syria, according to local authorities in both countries.

The death toll, however, is expected to climb further as emergency workers struggle to pull survivors from under the rubble of collapsed buildings.

The first earthquake, measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale, struck at 4:14am local time.

Its epicenter was in the Pazarcik district of Turkey’s southern Kahramanmaras province, according to the nation’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).

In addition to Kahramanmaras, the initial quake affected Turkey’s southern provinces of Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, Adana, Adiyaman, Malatya, Osmaniye, Hatay, and Kilis.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo Rescuers search for survivors through the rubble in Sanliurfa, after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Turkey’s southeast on Feb. 6, 2023. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Nine hours later, at 1:24pm local time, a second 7.6-magnitude quake struck the same region, resulting in yet more deaths and injuries and further compounding the destruction.

According to AFAD, the epicenter of the second quake was in the Elbistan district of Kahramanmaras province.

“There are many collapsed buildings in the area,” Abdulkadir Aytac, a 52-year-old baker in Elbistan, said in the immediate wake of the second quake.

“Those buildings that are still standing are in bad shape,” Aytac told The Epoch Times. “If there’s an aftershock, more buildings will certainly fall.”

As of the time of writing, Turkish authorities had put the casualty toll at 1,651 dead and 11,119 injured, while more than 3,470 buildings in 10 southern provinces had reportedly collapsed as a result of the tremors.

turkey-quake-rescue People and emergency teams rescue a person on a stretcher from a collapsed building in Adana, Turkey, on Feb. 6, 2023. (IHA agency via AP)

According to local press reports, more than 2,400 survivors have so far been successfully retrieved from under the rubble, although it is feared that thousands more remain trapped.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for his part, has since declared a seven-day period of national mourning.

Orhan Tatar, AFAD’s general director of earthquake and risk reduction, was quoted as saying by Turkey’s Anadolu Agency that there was still “serious earthquake activity in the region.”

Aftershocks of up to 6.7 in magnitude would likely continue for the next several hours, he said.

The twin quakes also caused considerable destruction in northern Syria, where powerful tremors were reported in the provinces of Idlib, Aleppo, Hama, Latakia, and Raqqa.

According to the Syrian Health Ministry, at least 910 people have been killed and hundreds more injured, although these numbers are expected to rise further.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden has reportedly ordered his administration to provide Turkey with “any and all needed assistance.”

Speaking on Twitter, Biden said he was “deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation caused by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.”

Turkey Earthquake
Turkey Earthquake A collapsed building following an earthquake in Pazarcik, in Kahramanmaras province, southern Turkey, early on Feb. 6, 2023. (Depo Photos via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin also conveyed his condolences to Turkey in a telephone call to his Turkish counterpart.

According to Ankara’s Communications Directorate, Putin also offered to provide assistance to Turkey in search-and-rescue efforts and disaster relief.

Speaking shortly before the second quake, Erdogan described the incident as the “biggest natural disaster” to hit Turkey since a 1939 earthquake in the central Erzincan province that killed 32,000 people.

In 1999, Turkey’s northwestern Izmit province was rocked by a 7.6-magnitude earthquake that left more than 17,000 people dead.

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