Brian Gornick, Staff Writer
Civilians and emergency personnel rescue an injured person on a stretcher in Adana, Turkey. Photo//https://www.npr.org/2023/02/05/1154719598/turkey-syria-earthquake
Turkey and Syria were struck by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake early Monday morning, leaving thousands dead and thousands more left in rubble.
Monday’s earthquake marks the most powerful earthquake that the region has felt since 1939, when an earthquake of the same magnitude killed nearly 30,000 people.
Turkey was hit the hardest, with official death totals as of Monday evening coming in at 2,316 people and at least 5,606 buildings destroyed according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD) via CNN. Syria was also hit hard, with at least 1,136 reported deaths.
Thousands of rescue personnel have been working to free people trapped in the rubble of fallen buildings, including both Turkey’s AFAD and Syria’s Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets. Their efforts have been hindered by a multitude of issues, from a freezing and thawing weather pattern, to over 60 aftershocks after the initial earthquake, including a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that occurred on Monday afternoon.
Raed Saleh, the head of the White Helmets civil defense group, spoke on how dire the situation was in an interview with NPR. “In all these areas buildings have fallen to the ground and the teams are working on them. And all of these buildings have people under the rubble. The hospitals are all completely full. The situation is literally tragic.” Saleh also spoke on the weather conditions being a factor in hindering rescue operations, as rain and snow are hitting northern Syria.
Syrian White Helmets and civilians search for survivors in the rubble of a fallen building in Syria’s Idlib province early Monday morning. Photo//https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/05/europe/earthquake-hits-turkey-intl-hnk/index.html
The international community has offered support and aid to both Turkey and Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a twitter thread announced that 45 countries have reached out to provide aid. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also announced Monday morning that NATO allies are coordinating aid packages to Turkey, including sending rescue personnel to Turkey and Syria to assist local authorities already working to rescue civilians.