At least 912 people died as a result of the 7.8 M magnitude Turkish earthquake that hit Monday 6 February 2023, said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, revising previous figures. With at least 326 people also dying in government-controlled parts of Syria, bringing the death toll from the region’s most powerful earthquake in nearly a century to more than 1,200.
Earthquakes hit southeastern Turkey and Syria early Monday, toppling buildings and sending panicked residents out into the cold winter night.
Rescue workers and residents frantically searched for survivors under the rubble of destroyed buildings in several towns on both sides of the border. In a Turkish city that was hit by an earthquake, dozens of people pulled chunks of concrete and bent metal. People on the street screamed at others inside apartment buildings that had partially collapsed or tilted.
On the Turkish side, the region has several major cities and is home to millions of Syrian refugees.
Erdogan said on Twitter that “search and rescue teams were dispatched immediately” to the quake-hit areas. “We hope to get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage,” he wrote.
There were at least 6 aftershocks, and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu advised the public not to enter damaged buildings because of the risk. “Our priority is to get the people trapped under the rubble and transfer them to the hospital,” he said.
At least 130 buildings collapsed in Turkey’s Malatya province, close to the epicenter, said Governor Hulusi Sahin. In the city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, at least 15 buildings collapsed. Rescuers search for survivors in a collapsed 11-storey building.
The US Geological Survey said the quake was centered about 33 kilometers from Gaziantep, Turkey’s major city and provincial capital. The quake was centered at a depth of 18 kilometers, and a strong 6.7-magnitude aftershock shook about 10 minutes later.
Syrian state media reported that several buildings collapsed in the northern city of Aleppo and the central city of Hama. In Damascus, buildings shook and many people took to the streets in fear.
The earthquake shook residents in Lebanon out of bed, shaking buildings for about 40 seconds. Many Beirut residents fled their homes and took to the streets or drove their cars away from the building.
The quake occurred as the Middle East is experiencing a snowstorm that is expected to continue through Thursday.
Turkey sits on a major fault line and is frequently shaken by earthquakes. About 18,000 died in a strong earthquake that hit northwestern Turkey in 1999.