Earlier today two large earthquakes have caused widespread damage in south Turkey and north Syria:
Nine hours after a first earthquake of magnitude M7.8 that hits south-eastern Turkey, near the Syrian border, February 6th 2023 at 1h17 UTC, a second M7.5 occurs (at 10h24 UTC) 100km further north. More information on the main shock (M7.8) is available here and for the 7.5 (here).
These earthquakes has been largely felt up to 2000 km from the epicenter, mainly in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, …
At the time of the report, a lot of buildings are damaged in Turkey and Syria and more than 1200 peoples haven been killed in Turkey and Syria.
Some 10 million people live in the affected area. The current count of death is already above 2,500. Whole city blocks have ‘pancaked’ (vid) and were destroyed. Many dead will likely still be under the rubble.
The area is prone to earthquakes. Just days ago an expert had warned that a big one was coming:
Frank Hoogerbeets @hogrbe –0:03 UTC · Feb 3, 2023Sooner or later there will be a ~M 7.5 #earthquake in this region (South-Central Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon). #deprem
Aftershock activities show that todays quakes occurred along two fault lines.
After the first big shake:
Aftershocks of the second quake:
These quakes are not unusual. Two parts of the earth surface are fighting there. The Arab plate is moving northward pushing the Anatolian plate to the west, southwest.
Snow and freezing temperatures as well as extensive damage to infrastructure are hindering rescue efforts:
The biggest death toll in Turkey is in Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of the quake, where 70 people are reported dead. Television footage shows emergency teams and volunteers trying to rescue people under the debris in the province under heavy snowfall.Turkey’s southern province of Hatay, bordering war-torn Syria, stands out as one of the most impacted areas in the region. Hatay Gov. Rahmi Dogan said two state hospitals had collapsed in the province’s central town of Antakya and the seaside town of Iskenderun.
“The majority of the buildings along the coast of Iskenderun collapsed,” a Hatay resident told Al-Monitor. Volkan Demirel, coach of Hatayspor and former soccer player, appealed for help in an online video. “Please help, the situation … here is really bad,” Demirel said in tears.
Vice President Fuat Oktay said that the province’s airport was closed due to heavy damage.
Orhan Mursaloglu, deputy mayor of Antakya, was among those trapped under the rubble after his apartment building collapsed. No rescue workers had reached the site as of time of publication of this article, his relatives told Al-Monitor.
Some 25 years ago I backpack traveled in the area. I had visited Sanliurfa and Gaziantep and a number of smaller towns. The standard of the buildings going up there were very mixed. Some were sturdy. But in others the concrete pillars holding the upper floors seemed extremely weak to me. They were build with very little reinforcements. In the later city I had climbed up to the imposing castle above the town. Unfortunately it no longer exists.
Liz Cookman @liz_cookman –7:02 UTC · Feb 6, 2023Gaziantep castle, constructed by the Romans and rebuilt extensively by the Seljuks, collapsed. #deprem #TurkeyEarthquake
International support for the areas has started. Turkey is generally earthquake prone and has a lot of rescue stuff. It will now get more. Unfortunately Syria, which is under devastating sanctions, will get little.
This would be a good time to lift those sanctions if only for purely humanitarian reasons.