Turkey and Syria have been ravaged by an enormous earthquake leaving 20.000 people dead. Desperate efforts to find survivors continue in a race against time that has been hampered by frigid conditions.
Turkey’s president is vowing to have all debris removed and homes rebuilt within a year in the 10 provinces of his country most affected by this week’s deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the pledge Wednesday in Hatay province, which has so far recorded at least 3.000 of Turkey’s more than 9,000 earthquake-related deaths.
Officials in Syria have reported more than 2,600 deaths from Monday’s quake, taking the overall death toll to over 11,700 as of Wednesday afternoon.
Extreme cold weather blocked the government’s response to the earthquake, which hampered the search and rescue operation. It’s not possible to prepare for a disaster of such a scale and Turkey will not leave any of its surviving citizens.
On 6 February 2023, an earthquake struck southern and central Turkey and western Syria. It occurred 34 km (21 mi) west of the city of Gaziantep at 04:17 TRT (01:17 UTC), causing widespread damage and thousands of fatalities in the region.
With a magnitude of at least 7.8 on the scale of Richter, the earthquake is tied with the 1939 Erzincan earthquake as the strongest recorded earthquake to hit Turkey in modern times and the deadliest earthquake to strike the country since the 1999 İzmit earthquake.
It is also the deadliest earthquake worldwide since the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and also one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded in the Levant. It caused structural damage as far away as Ashdod, Israel and Nicosia, Cyprus.
The earthquake was followed by numerous aftershocks, including an unusually powerful 7.5 shock, nine hours after the main quake.
Over 12.000 deaths have been reported in total; 9,057 in Turkey and 3,137 in Syria. A large winter storm hampered rescue efforts, dropping snow on the ruins and bringing plummeting temperatures.
The East Anatolian Fault accommodates the westward extrusion of Turkey into the Aegean Sea, while the Dead Sea Transform accommodates the northward motion of the Arabia peninsula relative to the Africa and Eurasia plates.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country is working to open two additional border gates to Syria to enable humanitarian aid into the war-torn country.
Cavusoglu said damage on the Syrian side of the road to the Cilvegozu border gate is prohibiting the flow of aid. The route is open solely for humanitarian aid as per the UN Security Council’s authorization.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said a donor conference for international aid for Syria and Turkey in the wake of Monday’s devastating earthquake has been planned for March, 2023.
For the first time in 24 years, the Istanbul stock exchange announced that it is closing for five days in response to the destructive earthquake at the start of the week.
The last time the Istanbul stock exchange suspended trading was after a devastating earthquake in 1999 that left more than 17,000 dead.
The Istanbul stock exchange cited an increase in volatility and extraordinary price movements after the earthquake disaster. Some politicians called for all trades that occurred since the earthquake to be cancelled.
Opposition party legislator Murat Bakan said doing so would “protect the rights of 500,000 small investors who are under the rubble, who died or who await rescue and have no access to the internet.
Monday’s deadly earthquake has forced more than 298,000 people to leave their homes in Syria. State news agency SANA quoted the minister, Hussein Makhlouf, as saying 180 shelters had been opened by the government for those displaced.\
The displacements would seem to have occurred in parts of Syria under government control, as Damascus authorities are unlikely to keep statistics for those regions held by foreign invaders.
The sanctions-hit Syrian government has put in an official request to the EU for emergency assistance. The White Helmet group, which is leading rescue efforts in rebel-held areas of Syria, has also appealed for international help as it tries to find and save survivors.
ABC Flash Point Disaster News 2023.