Massive portions of major Turkish cities were completely destroyed by the 7.8-magnitude early morning earthquake, which was followed by dozens of aftershocks in a region where millions of people have fled the civil war in Syria and other crises.
Rescuers peeled up debris with heavy machinery and their bare hands in search of survivors, some of whom they could hear pleading for assistance beneath the rubble.
However, the 23-year-old told AFP, “That was the first time we had ever encountered something like that.” We believed it to be the end of the world.
Raed Ahmed, the director of Syria’s National Earthquake Center, referred to it as “the strongest earthquake recorded in the center’s history.”
State media and medical sources claimed at least 810 deaths in Syria’s rebel and government-controlled regions, and Turkish officials added 1,498 more.
Numerous aftershocks, including one of 7.5 magnitude that rocked the area on Monday afternoon in the thick of search and rescue operations, were caused by the first earthquake.
In their pajamas, shocked survivors in Turkey hurried out onto the snow-covered streets to observe rescuers sifting through the wreckage of destroyed homes.
In the largely Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, Muhittin Orakci told AFP, “Seven members of my family are under the debris.”
“There are my sister and her three kids. Her husband, her father-in-law, and her mother-in-law are also mentioned.
A winter snowfall that coated main roadways in ice and snow and made rescue efforts difficult proved hindering. Officials reported that the earthquake rendered three of the region’s major airports inoperable, greatly hampering the delivery of critical relief.
33,000 people perished in the eastern province of Erzincan after Turkey’s last 7.8-magnitude earthquake in 1939.
Run toward the door
The first earthquake on Monday occurred at 4:17 a.m. (0117 GMT) near the city of Gaziantep, Turkey, which has a population of around two million, at a depth of roughly 18 kilometers (11 miles).
About eight minutes after the tremor hit Turkey, according to Denmark’s geological institute, tremors from the main quake reached the east coast of Greenland.
A Syrian earthquake survivor named Osama Abdel Hamid claimed that his family was asleep when the shaking started.
He continued, “I woke up my wife and my kids, and we hurried toward the door.” “We opened it, and all of a sudden the building fell.”
Teams were working feverishly to free trapped persons, according to a representative for Syria’s civil defense.
“Many structures in various towns and villages in northwest Syria collapsed… Many households are still buried under the debris, according to Ismail Alabdallah.
Immediately, condolence messages and assistance offers were issued from the United States, the European Union, and Russia.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, made the offer to Turkey, whose combat drones are assisting Kyiv in fighting the Russian invasion, to give them “the required assistance.”
Person under debris
Images on Turkish television showed rescuers sifting through debris in the residential neighborhoods and city centers of practically every major city along the Syrian border.
Near the epicenter of the earthquake, between Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep, entire city blocks lay in ruins beneath the falling snow, causing some of the worst destruction.
After the ground shook, some of their dwellings were partially destroyed by a prominent mosque from the 13th century.
Buildings in Aleppo, Syria’s pre-war commercial center, frequently fell down before the tragedy because of the deteriorated infrastructure, which had suffered from lack of control during the conflict.
As a precaution, officials turned off the natural gas and electricity in the area. They also closed the schools for two weeks.
According to David Rothery, an earthquake expert at the Open University in Britain, “the scale of the aftershocks, which may continue for days despite generally reducing in energy, carries a risk of collapse of structures already compromised by the previous occurrences.”
Search and rescue operations are perilous as a result.
Turkey is located in one of the seismically active regions of the planet.
In 1999, a 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck the Duzce region of Turkey, killing about 17,000 people overall, including roughly 1,000 in Istanbul.
Experts have long warned that Istanbul, a 16 million-person megalopolis full of unstable homes, might be completely destroyed by a powerful earthquake.
Meanwhile CNN has reported that the earthquake death toll has risen to 4000 or more