The world was rocked on Monday when a devastating earthquake struck central Turkey and northwest Syria. The magnitude 7.8 quake was one of the worst to hit Turkey this century and was followed by another large quake, magnitude 7.7, in the early afternoon. The death toll is estimated to be over 1,400 with thousands more injured and untold numbers still trapped in the rubble.
The quake shook the region in the early darkness of a winter morning, pulverizing apartment blocks and heaping more destruction on Syrian cities already devastated by years of war. In Turkey, the death toll has been reported as 912 people killed, 5,383 injured, and 2,818 buildings collapsed. In Syria, the health ministry said more than 326 people had been killed and 1,042 injured.
Rescue workers have been struggling to pull casualties from the rubble in bitter weather, with some success. Men carried a girl wrapped in blankets from a collapsed building in Diyarbakir, and in Syria’s Aleppo, footage circulated on Twitter showed two neighbouring buildings collapsing one after the other.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said everyone is putting their heart and soul into the rescue efforts although the winter season, cold weather and the earthquake happening during the night makes things more difficult.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported a series of earthquakes, one of 6.7 magnitude, and 45 countries have offered to help the search and rescue efforts. The U.S. has also offered to provide any and all needed assistance.
It was Turkey’s most severe quake since 1999, when one of similar magnitude devastated Izmit and the heavily populated eastern Marmara Sea region near Istanbul, killing more than 17,000.
The destruction caused by this earthquake is a reminder of the power of nature and the devastating impact of natural disasters. We can only hope for a speedy recovery for those affected and that rescue workers will be able to save as many lives as possible.