Hundreds dead after massive earthquake in Turkey and Syria

    President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said search and rescue teams had been sent to the region. Speaking Twitterhe expressed hope for a speedy recovery.

    National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in an overnight statement that the US is “deeply concerned” about the impact of the earthquake.

    “We stand ready to provide any assistance needed,” he said. “President Biden has directed USAID and other partners of the federal government to assess US response capabilities to help those most affected. We will continue to closely monitor the situation in cooperation with the government of Turkiye.”

    Anadolu published a photo of a pancaked building, window coverings exposed to the sky, furniture crushed, water pipes detached from the pipes. The location was not made clear.

    Video from Malatya, Turkey, distributed by Reuters, showed damaged buildings, debris in the streets and rescuers on the ground ready to act.

    The region is seismically active, the USGS said, and the first earthquake appears to have been near a triple intersection of tectonics, between the plates of Anatolia, Arabia and Africa.

    A destroyed building after an earthquake on February 6, 2023 in Diyarbakir, Turkey.
    A destroyed building after an earthquake Monday in Diyarbakir, Turkey.Anadolu agency via Getty Images

    Renowned seismologist Lucy Jones tweeted that as many as 4.5 million people in the region experienced very strong or severe shaking, according to her reading of USGS data.

    The USGS said housing in the region is often composed of earthquake-prone structures and materials, including unreinforced brick masonry and low-rise concrete frame structures with no channels.

    “In general, the population in this region lives in structures that are extremely vulnerable to earthquakes,” according to a USGS analysis.

    Syrian state media reported that some buildings in the northern city of Aleppo and the central city of Hama collapsed.

    Several buildings have collapsed in rebel-held northwestern Syria, which borders Turkey, according to the Syrian opposition civil defence.

    The Syria Civil Defense volunteer group, also known as the White Helmets, declared an unofficial state of emergency for the country, as it said, collapsed buildings have trapped many residents.

    A computer-generated analysis by the USGS PAGER program, for Prompt Assessment of Global Earthquakes for Response, determined that the number of deaths could exceed 100 and reach 1,000. It also calculated that losses could reach $1 billion or more.

    However, the USGS said the projections had not yet been reviewed by a scientist.

    An earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale shook central Turkey on Monday morning and was followed by a strong aftershock.
    An earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale shook central Turkey on Monday morning and was followed by a strong aftershock. AP

    The quake jolted Lebanon residents from their beds and shook buildings for about 40 seconds. Many Beirut residents left their homes and took to the streets or drove away from buildings in their cars.

    Turkey lies on top of major fault lines and is regularly rocked by earthquakes; In 1999, 18,000 people died in powerful earthquakes that struck northwestern Turkey.

    The recorded history of earthquakes in the region goes back hundreds of years, according to the USGS, which said Monday’s quake occurred in the East Anatolian Fault Zone, or Dead Sea Transform Fault Zone.

    The region’s last major shaker occurred on Jan. 24, 2020, and measured 6.7, the USGS said. It was northeast of Monday’s quake, it said.

    Nearby Aleppo, Syria, was hit by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake in 1138, the survey said. A magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the same area in Syria in 1822, it said.

    Beatrice Guzzardi, Aina J. Khan, Lawahez Jabari, Aziz Akyavas And Charlene Gubash contributed.

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