Turkey: An immense tremor killed around 1,700 individuals and harmed thousands more on Monday in focal Turkey and northwest Syria, flattening apartment blocks and inflicting more destruction on Syrian cities devastated by years of war.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck before sunrise in bitterly cold weather was Turkey’s worst this century. This was followed by another major earthquake of magnitude 7.7 in the afternoon. It was not immediately clear how much damage had been caused by the second quake, which, like the first, was felt across the region and beleaguered rescuers struggled to pull casualties from the rubble, often using their bare hands to remove masonry.
“We were shaken like a cradle. There were nine of us at home. Two sons of mine are still in the rubble, I’m waiting for them,” said a woman with a broken arm and injuries to her face, speaking in an ambulance near the wreckage of a seven-story block where she had lived in Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey.
In Turkey, the death toll stood at 1,014 people, the head of its disaster agency said. President Tayyip Erdogan said 5,383 had been injured but he could not predict how much the death toll would rise as search and rescue efforts continued. He added that 2,818 buildings had collapsed.
“Everyone is putting their heart and soul into efforts although winter season, cold weather, and the earthquake happening during the night makes things more difficult,” he said.
Live footage from Turkish state broadcaster TRT showed a building collapse in the southern province of Adana after the second quake. It was not immediately clear if it was evacuated. In Syria, already wrecked by more than 11 years of civil war, the health ministry said about 430 people had been killed and more than 1,000 injured. In the Syrian rebel-held northwest, a United Nations spokesperson said 255 people had died.
People carry a girl wrapped in a blanket from a collapsed building in the city. In Izmir, drone footage showed rescue workers standing atop a hill of rubble where a building once stood, working to lift slabs of masonry. Footage circulated on Twitter showed two neighboring buildings collapsing one after the other in Aleppo, Syria, filling the street with a plume of dust.
Two residents of the town, which was heavily damaged in the fighting, said buildings collapsed in the hours following the quake, which was also felt in Cyprus and Lebanon.