The ground shook and the walls crumbled on Monday morning as a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Turkey and neighboring Syria, leaving behind a devastating aftermath. The quake, which was centered on Turkey’s southeastern province of Kahramanmaras, sent shockwaves felt as far away as Cairo and Beirut, toppling hundreds of buildings and trapping residents under mounds of rubble or pancaked floors.
The death toll has already risen to more than 2,300, and authorities fear it will continue to climb as rescue workers search through tangles of metal and concrete for survivors. In the rebel-held enclave of Syria, hundreds of families remain trapped in rubble, while in Turkey, thousands of buildings have been reported collapsed in a wide area extending from Aleppo and Hama to Diyarbakir.
The region sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes, with some 18,000 killed in similarly powerful earthquakes that hit northwest Turkey in 1999. The US Geological Survey measured Monday’s quake at 7.8, with a depth of 18 kilometers (11 miles). Hours later, a 7.5 magnitude quake struck more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) away.
Offers of help — from search-and-rescue teams to medical supplies and money — have poured in from dozens of countries, as well as the European Union and NATO. The vast majority were for Turkey, with Russian and even an Israeli promise of help to the Syrian government, but it was not clear if any would go to the devastated rebel-held pocket in the northwest.
The earthquake has added new woes to the region that has already seen tremendous suffering over the past decade, with millions of refugees from Syria’s civil war and a refugee crisis in Turkey. Strained health facilities quickly filled with injured, rescue workers said, while bitterly cold temperatures could reduce the time frame that rescuers have to save trapped survivors.
As the search and rescue continues, the world is watching and waiting to see how the death toll will rise in this devastating earthquake. With the help of international aid and support, the affected regions are hoping to rebuild and recover from this tragedy.