More than 3,000 people were killed Monday in two massive earthquakes that struck southeastern Turkey and its neighbor to the south, Syria, where at least 900 people died. The first quake, which measured 7.8 magnitude on the Richter scale, struck at around 4 am local time, crushing more than a thousand people in collapsing buildings while they slept.
A second massive 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck Turkey at midday Monday, barely eight hours later at a depth of 4.3 miles, according to the country’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).
Two significant aftershocks of 5.8-magnitude and 5.7-magnitude, followed the second quake an hour later.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) reported after the second quake that there was no tsunami danger in the Eastern Mediterranean, at least one bit of good news in a sea of tragedy.
Numerous buildings collapsed in multiple Turkish cities, including Adana, southwest of the epicenter of the first earthquake. Nearly all the buildings in the city of Hatay, also southwest of Gaziantep, were flattened by the quake, and the damage spanned at least seven Turkish provinces.
More than 15,000 people are known to injured, in addition to the destruction of thousands of buildings in both countries. This is Turkey’s largest disaster since 1939 (when 33,000 people were killed in the Erzincan earthquake).
More than 900 people were killed in Syria as buildings there collapsed from the same temblors.
Warning: This footage may be distressing to some readers.
The second earthquake struck the Kahramanmaras province at 1:24 pm local time, according to the Istanbul-based Kandilli observatory and the US Geological Survey (USGS).
It also triggered earthquake alert sirens in the Tel Aviv neighborhood of Ganei Tikva, Petach Tikvah’s Beilinson Medical Center and in some Israeli schools, where children immediately followed local earthquake protocols.
The initial temblor struck before dawn at a depth of about 11 miles near the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep, just 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the Syrian border and was felt as far south as the Sharon region in Israel.
A strong 6.7 aftershock rocked the area just ten minutes later, wreaking more havoc, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of the first quake’s epicenter. Another intense aftershock with a magnitude of 5.6 followed less than ten minutes after that first strong aftershock.
The winter weather is not helping search and rescue teams in their efforts to find those who might still be alive under the rubble, with both rain and snow falling in the area.
Israel Sends Search & Rescue Teams, Humanitarian Aid
Israel immediately prepared search and rescue units along with humanitarian aid to travel to Turkey. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his condolences in a statement Monday morning on behalf of the Israeli people, expressed “deep sadness” by the “enormous disaster that has befallen Türkiye” and to President Recep Tayyip Erdigan and the Turkish people for the loss of life and destruction of livelihoods.
“The State of Israel always stands ready to assist in every way possible,” Netanyahu said. “Our hearts are with the grieving families and the Turkish people at this painful moment.”
The IDF is currently preparing to send out a humanitarian aid delegation to Türkiye after the devastating earthquake there overnight.
The IDF Home Front Command is leading the IDF's preparations for the outgoing humanitarian mission. pic.twitter.com/zdMCzrpaLz
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) February 6, 2023
Netanyahu added that “at the request of the Turkish government,” all authorities were instruction to “make immediate preparations to provide medical and search and rescue assistance. The Foreign and Defense ministers have already been in contact with their counterparts and we will, in the coming hours, agree on the dispatching of a delegation as soon as possible.”
NW #Syria in a state of catastrophe after 7.8 magnitude #earthquake. Destruction, devastation, and collapse of buildings. Hundreds of injuries, dozens of deaths, many trapped under the rubble or stranded in the winter cold. We call on the international community to take action. pic.twitter.com/rtzqRJa8IP
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) February 6, 2023
In addition, Netanyahu said a request for search and rescue units and medical aid was also received from Syria. “Since a request was also received to do this – for the many who were injured in the earthquake in Syria, I have instructed that this be done as well.”
International Aid from EU, WHO, India, UK, Poland & More
The European Union said meanwhile that ten search and rescue teams have been mobilized in the wake of the disaster. In addition, the EU has activated its emergency Copernicus satellite mapping service to help the first responders on the ground.
“Ten Urban Search and Rescue teams have been quickly mobilized from Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania to support the first responders on the ground,” EU commissioners Josep Borrell and Janez Lenarcic said in a statement. “Italy and Hungary have offered their rescue teams to Türkiye as well.”
The United Kingdom promised to send a team of 76 search and rescue specialists, rescue equipment and four rescue dogs, expected to arrive Monday evening, in addition to an emergency medical team to assess the situation on the ground.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that 45 countries have offered to help with search and rescue efforts.
Germany‘s federal civil protection agency offered camps with emergency shelters and water treatment units; Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said the agency is already preparing relief supplies with emergency generators, tens and blankets, in coordination with Turkish authorities.
The United Nations’ World Health Organization has activated its network of emergency medical teams to provide care for the injured and those who are vulnerable and affected by the quakes.
Two teams from India‘s National Disaster Response Force, comprised of 100 personnel with specially trained dog squads and equipment, were made ready to fly to the disaster scene to help with search and rescue operations. Medical teams and relief material were also being sent in coordination with Turkish authorities, Reuters reported.
Poland said in a tweet that it will send the HUSAR rescue group, consisting of 75 firefighters and eight rescue dogs.
Azerbaijan‘s rescue teams also arrived in Turkey to assist with search and rescue efforts.
Georgia‘s Emergency Situations Management Agency sent 60 rescuers and firefighters and 2 dogs, along with the necessary rescue gear and equipment to help the search and rescue efforts in Turkey.
In addition, offers of assistance were received from Taiwan, Ukraine, Russia, Greece, Spain, and the Norwegian Refugee Council, among others.