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Turkey-Syria earthquake: Hundreds killed and thousands injured

Over 2,300 dead and thousands injured as magnitude 7.8 quake strikes region
Members of the Syrian civil defence, known as the White Helmets, look for casualties following an earthquake in the town of Zardana, in northwest Syria's Idlib province on 6 February 2023 (AFP)
Members of the Syrian civil defence, known as the White Helmets, look for casualties following an earthquake in the town of Zardana, in northwest Syria's Idlib province on 6 February 2023 (AFP)

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southeast Turkey and northwest Syria on Monday morning, killing more than 2,300 people and injuring thousands more. 

At least 1,498 people died in Turkey and more than 8,533 people were injured, Turkish officials said. 

'That one minute of tremors felt like years'

- Ahmed Furkan Oguz, Adana resident

In Syria, more than 810 people were killed and more than 2,315 injured, according to Syrian government health officials and the volunteer Syria Civil Defence rescue group (White Helmets), as the quake struck the provinces of Idlib, Aleppo, Latakia, Tartus and Hama. 

A new earthquake of 7.5 magnitude 1:24pm local time hit Turkey, the United States Geological Survey reported. 

Since the first, which struck 4:17am local time near Gaziantep and measured 7.8, there have been several aftershocks. This new earthquake was reportedly felt as far as Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.

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Raed al-Saleh, director of the White Helmets, told Middle East Eye that the number of deaths is likely to increase "dramatically" with hundreds of families still buried under rubble across Idlib. 

"[The] Civil Defence is in a state of complete emergency and yet we are unable to respond due to the horror of the disaster," Saleh said.

"We appeal to international organisations and bodies to intervene urgently to help save civilians, any second means saving the lives of dozens of civilians."


More than 2,818 buildings collapsed in Turkey, with most casualties occurring in the southern Hatay province and the city of Gaziantep. Around 2,470 people have been rescued from under rubble so far. 

The Turkish cities of Adana, Diyarbakir, Sanliurfa, Osmaniye, Kahramanmaras and Iskenderun, among others, were also hit.

A doctor at a public hospital in Kahramanmaras, the city at the epicentre of the quake, described a "disaster zone" and said the aftermath of the earthquake was "much worse than people think".

 "Roads are blocked [and] everybody is doing their best, but we don't know what will happen," said the doctor who asked not to be named.

'Wiped off the map'

Ahmet Tuncay Cakar was sleeping in his home when the earthquake struck Malatya, one of the worst-affected cities in Turkey. 

"When the earthquake ended, I told myself Malatya must have been wiped off the map. It was horrendous," said Cakar, whose family home was badly damaged in the earthquake. 

Speaking from a relative's home where he and his family have sought refuge, Cakar said roads were blocked with snowfall delaying the rescue effort. 

Ahmet Furkan Oguz, a resident of Adana, described the horror of the moment the earthquake struck his home. 

"That one minute of tremors felt like years," Oguz told MEE. "We managed to escape the building as soon as the earthquake finished."

The quake sent tremors which were felt in Cyprus, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt.

Turkey has declared a fourth-level emergency and asked for international assistance through the EU's Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC).

Several countries sent offers of assistance, including the Netherlands, Romania, Azerbaijan, the UK, Russia, Italy, Greece, Israel, France, Germany and Ukraine.


"The EU's Emergency Response Coordination Centre is coordinating the deployment of rescue teams from Europe. Teams from the Netherlands and Romania are already on their way," tweeted ERCC commissioner Janez Lenarcic.

Local authorities cut gas and oil flows to Hatay as a precaution, due to partial damages in local pipelines. 

Hatay airport’s runway was damaged by the quake, with a huge tear seen across the tarmac.

Live: Huge quake kills hundreds in Syria and Turkey
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Gaziantep's ancient castle, which is about 2,200 years old, collapsed.

Turkish MP Yakup Tas and his family are among those trapped under the rubble in the southern city of Adiyaman.

Turkish authorities have sent 102 mobile cell phone towers to the affected regions due to network outages. Meanwhile, schools have been closed for a week in 10 cities across the country, which will be used to host those affected.

In Syria, volunteers in the Syrian Civil Defence, commonly known as the White Helmets, reported extensive damage in rebel-held areas northwest of the country. 

At least 147 people died in opposition-held territory, the White Helmets said on Twitter, with over 340 injured. 

"The toll may increase as many families are still trapped," it wrote. "Our teams are on the ground searching for survivors & removing the dead from the rubble."

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad held an emergency cabinet meeting on Monday to review the damage and discuss next steps, his office said. 

The 7.8 magnitude struck at a depth of 17.9km, the US Geological Survey said. It reported a series of earthquakes, including one of 6.7 magnitude.

'Shaken off my bed'

Meanwhile, survivors of the earthquake in Syria described scenes and feelings of horror in the aftermath of the first shock. 

"I woke up from being shaken off my bed, and everyone got evacuated out," a resident of Latakia told told Middle East Eye's Ayah El-Khaldi.

In Syria, the initial quake struck the provinces of Idlib, Aleppo, Latakia, Tartus and Hama. The aftershocks hit the capital Damascus. 

"It’s been almost two hours now and I still haven't calmed down. I feel as if I am walking on a sponge and my anxiety is insane," a resident of Damascus told MEE.

"When I managed to speak to my children I burst into tears."

Syrian health officials and volunteer rescue workers said 783 have been killed and more than 2,000 injured as rescue efforts continue. 

Former national team footballer Nader Joukhadar and his son Taaj were among those who died in Jableh city, the Syrian Football Association said

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