Earthquake in Turkey and Syria Causes Extensive Damage


Disaster in Diyarbakir occurs the morning of Feb. 6 after the Turkey/Syria earthquake. Photo credit to Mahmut Bozarslan.

Victoria Billett, Staff Writer

On Monday, Feb. 6, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck early in the morning, affecting areas in southern Turkey and northern Syria. A few hours later, a 7.5 magnitude tremor hit the same area but covered more land than the first.

With the earthquake being one of the strongest to hit the region in over 100 years, it caused extensive damage. There have been more than 46,000 fatalities, at least 114,000 injured, and 2.4 million displaced. Multiple people are on the streets due to building collapse. And, only so many resources were able to reach certain zones, especially in Syria. Around 14.6 million of the 18.6 million citizens in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance, due to its civil war since 2011. Internal conflicts are now causing difficulties in aid access from other areas. 

On the other hand, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has announced a three-month state of emergency for the 10 most damaged provinces. These provinces include Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa. With the rise of deaths and architectural destruction, the earthquake is now number five in the ‘Global Ranking of the Deadliest Earthquakes Since 2000.

Currently, Turkey is seen as a tectonically active area by seismologists due to three tectonic plates interacting right near its border: the Anatolia, Arabia, and Africa plates. There are then two fault lines in the area, the North Anatolian Fault and the East Anatolian Fault. The Arabian plate is right under Syria, which has been pushing towards the north, causing the Anatolia and Africa plate to be pushed towards the west. The plates have recently been quiet, so it was likely an earthquake would occur soon, but no one could have known how detrimental it would be. 

Due to the damage that has occurred, countries such as the UK, the US, Italy, France, Spain, and Russia have sent aid over to Turkey and Syria. Two US agencies for international development teams were set to arrive on Feb. 8, in the southeast province of Adiyaman, Turkey for help. The UK sent 76 search-and-rescue specialists to Turkey, while the United Nations sent 58 trucks filled with resources. Their help will be needed as temperatures in Turkey and Syria have been reaching the negatives in celsius in the evenings for the past few weeks. 

As search and rescue teams continue to search for people under the debris, they are now having to work against the clock. People are only suspected to live three days without water, 10 without food, and 100 hours under ruins. This time frame will cause the death toll to continue rising, not from the earthquake or low temperatures, but from the time it takes to be found. Yet against those odds, rescuers are still finding people alive and stable under the wreckage even weeks later.