Devastation in Turkey and Syria Following Powerful Earthquakes
Powerful and successive earthquakes have struck Turkey and Syria, leaving more than 2,300 people dead and thousands of buildings destroyed. The first quake, with a magnitude of 7.8, was one of the most powerful in the region in at least a century and was felt as far away as Cyprus and Cairo. This was followed by a magnitude of 7.7 11 minutes later, with an epicentre in the Elbistan district of Kahramanmaras province. More than 100 aftershocks have been registered by seismologists.
In Turkey, 1,498 people have died, 7,600 have been injured, and 2,818 buildings have collapsed. In neighbouring Syria, the health ministry reported 430 people dead and 1,280 injured. In the country’s rebel-held northwest, groups that operate there said the death toll was at least 380, with many hundreds injured. The UN Secretary General António Guterres has called for an international response to the crisis, saying that many of the families hit by the disaster were “already in dire need of humanitarian aid in areas where access is a challenge”.
The disaster has hit particularly hard in historical Gaziantep Castle in the central Şahinbey district. Some of its fortifications in the “east, south and south-east” were destroyed, with debris scattered on the road. The same is true of the nearby Şirvani Mosque, which dates back to the 17th century and also partially collapsed.
Search and rescue operations are underway across the region, with more than 10 search and rescue teams mobilised from the European Union, as well as teams from the Netherlands and Romania. The United Kingdom has declared that they will be sending seventy-six specialists, necessary equipment, and rescue dogs. France, Germany, Israel, and the US have also pledged to help, as have Russia and Iran.
Turkey lies in one of the world's most active earthquake zones, with land stretching over the Anatolian fault line in the north of the country that has caused large and destructive tremors. The magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck near Nurdağı, at a shallow depth of 18 km (11 miles). It was followed nine hours later by a magnitude-7.5 quake, about 95 kilometers to the northeast.
Scenes of devastation have emerged in the wake of the earthquakes, with mountains of rubble and collapsed buildings.
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