At least 500 dead after huge earthquake hits Turkey, Syria in early hours

At least 500 dead after huge earthquake hits Turkey, Syria in early hours
Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay seen addressing latest grave reports on the disaster in Turkish TV coverage. / screengrab
By bne IntelIiNews February 6, 2023

At least 500 people in Turkey and Syria were thought dead and thousands more injured after a huge 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian border, in the early hours of February 6.

The death toll was seen as likely to rise.

Rescuers were racing to save people trapped beneath the rubble. Thousands of buildings collapsed across both countries, according to local reports.

Turkey declared a state of emergency.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who will be under pressure to oversee an effective response to the disaster as Turkey heads to its May 14 elections, expressed his sympathies and urged national unity.

“We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage,” he tweeted.

Dozens of aftershocks have been felt in the hours since the earthquake struck.

Millions of people across Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus and Israel felt the earthquake, with the epicentre reportedly near the Turkish city of Gaziantep.

Turkish disaster management agency AFAD said early accounts showed 76 people were killed in Turkey and 440 injured. But by around 0815 GMT, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said the death toll in Turkey had risen to 284, with 2,323 injured.

AFAD recorded deaths in locations including Adana, Adiyaman, Malatya, Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep, and injured citizens in locations including Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, Adana, Adiyaman, Malatya, Osmaniye, Hatay and Kilis. 

In Syria, the earthquake impacts left at least 245 people dead across Aleppo, Hama and Lattakia with 516 injured, according to the Syrian health ministry.

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad chaired an emergency meeting of the nation’s council of ministers to assess the damage of the earthquake, according to a Facebook post by Syria’s health ministry.

Also in Syria, the White Helmets group was appealing to international humanitarian organisations to intervene promptly and support the impacted populations with aid.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that his country was ready to provide necessary assistance to “friendly” Turkish people in the aftermath of the earthquake, Reuters reported.

Nearly 1,000 search and rescue volunteers were being deployed from Istanbul to the affected earthquake regions in Turkey, according to the Governor of Istanbul, Ali Yerlikaya.

Turkey’s AFAD was calling for international support to expand its search and rescue effort.

The Guardian cited a resident of Parzarcik in Turkey as saying: "Our house looks solid from the outside but there are cracks inside. There are destroyed buildings around me, there are houses on fire. There are buildings that are cracking. A building collapsed just 200 metres away from where I am now. Thank God, our friends are safe, but we heard there are people who can’t get out of their homes and there are people we can’t reach.

"We are waiting for the sun to rise so that we can see the scale of the earthquake. People are all outside, all in fear."

The BBC quoted a resident of the Turkish city of Adana. "I have never seen anything like this in my life. We swayed for close to one minute," Nilufer Aslan said.

He described calling out to relatives in other rooms."[I said] 'There is an earthquake, at least let's die together in the same place'... It was the only thing that crossed my mind."

Authorities in Italy were vigilant as regards a potential tsunami risk on the country’s coast. They warned citizens in coastal areas to move to higher areas and wait for more information from local authorities. At around 0700 GMT the tsunami alert was lifted.

Turkey is one of the most earthquake-prone places in the world. Most of the country is located on the Anatolian tectonic plate, which sits between the major Eurasian and African plates and a minor one, the Arabian. Turkey gets "squeezed" as the plates shift. The worst quake in Turkey on record struck Izmit in 1999, taking more than 17,000 lives.

Northwestern Syria In State of Emergency After Catastrophic #Earthquake

We urge the international community to take emergency measures to prevent the situation from deteriorating further, and to support the rescue of civilians in #Syria.

Read more:

— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) February 6, 2023 6, 2023</a></blockquote>\n","url":"