Major Earthquake Hits the Middle East
Earthquake in Turkey and Syria kills hundreds with thousands injured infrastructure damaged major rescue operation underway in freezing temperatures
The worst earthquake in decades struck Turkey and Syria on Monday. The quake was detected at 4:17am (0117 GMT), according to the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD). It was centred in the Pazarcik district in the southern province of Kahramanmaras at a depth of 7 kilometres.
The agency initially measured the quake at 7.4 magnitude, but later revised it to 7.7. Dozens of aftershocks were detected later in the day in southern Türkiye, the Gulf of Alexandria and Syria, according to quake monitors, with the strongest spike reported at 7.5 magnitude.
The earthquake was felt across the region, with tremors noted by people as far as Baghdad, Iraq, and Beirut, Lebanon, hundreds of kilometers away.
President Recept Tayyip Erdogan said the disaster destroyed some 2,800 buildings. He called it the worst earthquake in the country since 1939. The wave of destruction swept through 10 Turkish provinces, including Kahramanmaras, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, Adana, Adiyaman, Malatya, Osmaniye, Hatay, and Kilis.
In Syria, the health ministry said it recorded over 400 deaths and over 1,000 injured people, with damage reported in Northern Aleppo, Hama, Latakia, and Tartus.
Türkiye is located in a seismically active part of the world, but Monday’s quake was one of the strongest in its history, with more than 1,000 people killed, according to Turkish authorities.
In both Türkiye and Syria, the quake caused damage to key infrastructure. In the Turkish Kilis Province, natural gas pipelines ruptured, with the fuel bursting into large plumes of flame, according to footage circulating online. Operator BOTAS said it cut the flow, but pressurised gas in the pipeline continued to feed the fires.
In Syria, a refinery in the city of Baniyas, one of the largest in the country, had to be shut down for at least 48 hours due to cracks in the chimney of its power unit, the Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources reported. The Syrian government also ordered all trains to be stopped as a precaution following the earthquake.
Turkish authorities closed the Hatay Airport due to the damage it sustained and suspended all civilian flights via the Gaziantep International Airport amid the emergency. The ports of Ceyhan and Iskenderun were reportedly closed too.
The Gaziantep Castle, a hilltop fort located in the center of the city of Gaziantep was heavily damaged by the quake, according to Turkish media. The structure dates to the second and third centuries, though it was repeatedly renovated over the course of history, and is considered the symbol of the city.
In Syria, the quake reportedly caused a crack to appear in the Citadel of Aleppo, a UNESCO heritage site located in Aleppo’s old city. Houmam Saad, who heads the Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums in the Culture Ministry, told media that a team had been dispatched to assess the scale of the damage.
Many nations, including Azerbaijan, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Russia, Serbia, Spain, the UK and the US, have offered their assistance in responding to the disaster.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent messages of condolence to Erdogan and Syrian President Bashar Assad and said his government was ready to help. Russian rescue teams have been sent to both countries to assist at the disaster sites.