Hundreds of people were killed and thousands of others were injured in Turkey and Syria as a result of a strong earthquake that struck early on Monday. The number of victims of the earthquake in Turkey has risen to 1,014, and more than 7,003 others have been injured.
In Syria, state media said the quake killed at least 430 people across the border in government-held areas of war-torn Syria. The official Syrian News Agency (SANA) said that at least 1,284 people were injured.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that this is the largest disaster his country has witnessed since 1939, adding that 2,824 buildings collapsed as a result. It was also reported that a second earthquake struck the southeast of the country in the same area as the first quake.
The Turkish Emergency and Disaster Management said that an earthquake measuring 7.4 degrees on the Richter scale struck the Pazardik district of Kahramanmaraş state (southern Turkey), at a depth of 7 km at dawn on Monday, while the Seismological Society of America estimated the strength of the main tremor at 7.8 degrees.
Kahramanmaraş’s earthquake lasted about a minute, causing the destruction of dozens of buildings and a huge fire. 78 aftershocks have been recorded by the Turkish relevant authorities, one of which occurred this afternoon and struck Kahramanmaraş again, with a magnitude of 7.6 degrees.
Erdoğan added that the earthquake caused great losses and that the authorities mobilized all means to overcome its effects.
In addition to Kahramanmaraş, the earthquake struck the states of Gaziantep, Hatay, Adana, Malatya, Diyarbakir, Sanliurfa and Osmaniye, and caused the collapse of hundreds of buildings and trapped many under rubble. Ports, airports and land roads were also damaged.
The head of the Seismological Observatory in Turkey said that this quake is the largest since the August 1999 earthquake that killed 17,000 people, including a thousand in Istanbul.
In Syria, the earthquake struck the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Hama, Latakia and Tartous. The Syrian Civil Defense, in the northwest of the country, said that at least 221 people were killed and 419 others were wounded, describing the situation as very difficult, stressing that the city of Aleppo was the most affected and that it needed international assistance.
The earthquake was also felt by residents in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Greece, Cyprus, Armenia, Georgia, Iraq, and some areas in Egypt.
While the rescue operations continue, several countries including Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Egypt, Russia, the US, the UK and Greece have announced their willingness to help Turkey and send specialized teams to contribute to the efforts to confront the disaster.