A deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake that trembled through the southeastern region of Turkey along the border with Syria on Monday, February 6 2023, has left over 3800 dead with the death toll still rising.
12 hours later, another powerful 7.6 magnitude earthquake rocked through Turkey, further adding damage to the affected areas.
The United States Geological Service (USGS) reported that “the earthquake struck at a depth of about 17.9km or 11 miles.” Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) put the magnitude of the quake at 7.4 near the cities of Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep.
Several aftershocks rumbled through the cities, as harrowing footage from social media showed buildings leveling to the ground in seconds while officials urged people to not enter the damaged buildings.
According to Al-Jazeera, in a statement released by the state-run Anadolu Agency, AFAD, the affected regions so far are: Kahramanmaras, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, Adana, Adiyaman, Malatya, Osmaniye, Hatay and Kilis. Thousands more have been affected across the border in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Hama, and Latakia.
The harsh weather clouding over Turkey and Syria are further tampering the rescue efforts as emergency responders were captured struggling in the cold while trying to rescue those trapped underneath the piles of rubble. According to Al-Jazeera, flights from Istanbul and Ankara to the eastern side of Turkey were canceled due to the heavy wind, rain and snow.
The epicenter of the earthquake has provided shelter to millions of Syrian refugees living in Turkey outside the city of Gaziantep.
The aftermath has resulted in thousands left without shelter under freezing temperatures which are expected to drop below freezing by Tuesday, with the lowest dropping to -6 celsius (21 fahrenheit) .
According to geologists, Turkey is one of the most active earthquake zones. However, the magnitude 7.8 earthquake was the most severe to rattle the country since 1999, which led to the deaths of 17,500 people.
The Yeni mosque, which holds a rich cultural heritage dating back to the 13th century, was partially ruined in the province of Maltaya, where a 14 story building housing 28 apartments also collapsed.
Neighboring affected country Syria is also struggling to rescue people under harsh weather conditions. ‘Mazen Kiwara, the Middle East Regional director for the Syrian American Medical society said “Right now we have a crisis, in addition to very bad weather conditions and collapsed buildings, and unfortunately, damaged hospitals, hospitals are overwhelmed from the number of casualties,” adding that several hospitals had to be evacuated.
There were “five to seven deaths in a fetal hospital in Afrin,” Kiwara added, “including one pregnant mother who passed away but our colleagues succeeded in getting her baby out alive. And he’s in a good condition right now.”
Syria, already suffering from a war ravaged by the United and Israel in a quest to overthrow the Assad Regime, is bracing to endure more hardship from the loss of lives and infrastructure caused by the earthquake.
According to Reuters, 45 countries have offered aid as stated by the Turkish President.
Neighboring country Iran expressed their sympathy and offered condolences. Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said, “If there is a need for the presence of relief and health institutions of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the earthquake-affected areas, we will fulfill our moral responsibility.”
He even mentioned the offer of help as a “moral, human and Islamic responsibility.”
Other countries like the US, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Qatar and several others have offered assistance and condolences.
Israel’s Prime Minister re-elect Benjamin Nethanyahu said he approved of sending aid to “earthquake-hit Syria, after “receiving a request” through diplomatic channels as the two countries have no official relations.
Nethanyahu further said that “Israel received a request from a diplomatic source for humanitarian aid to Syria, and I approved it,” Netanyahu told lawmakers in his Likud party, adding the aid would be sent soon.
However, a Syrian official debunked the claim to reporters in Syria by vehemently denying the allegations that it requested aid from Israel.
“How can Syria ask for help from an entity that has killed… Syrians for decades” said the official.
The Resistance news Network also refuted Netanyahu’s statement, saying “If Netanyahu had received such a request, it was certainly from his allies and friends in ISIS, Al-Nusra Front and other terrorist organizations,” further citing Israel’s direct connection to the civil war that has wreaked havoc in Syria since 2011.
As the death toll continues to mount, rescue workers in Syria and Turkey are working around the clock amidst piles of wreckage, all while battling freezing temperatures and the risk of aftershocks that still threaten both countries.
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