At least 568 people were killed and several buildings knocked down in Turkey and Syria after a powerful 7.8-magnitude quake struck southern Turkey, close to the Syrian border, on February 6. Authorities said the toll is expected to rise.
Turkey’s state media reported 284 people were confirmed dead while around 440 others were hurt. At least 130 buildings tumbled down in Malatya province, while 16 collapsed in Diyarbakir. Search for survivors trapped under the rubble is underway.
The quake, felt as far away as Cairo, was centred north of the city of Gaziantep about 90 kilometres (60 miles) from the Syrian border. Along with several cities, the area is home to home to millions of Syrian refugees who fled their country’s long-running civil war.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter that “search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched” to the areas hit by the quake. “We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage,” he wrote.
Social media videos showed multiple collapsed buildings and in Turkey and Syria with terrified locals huddling on the streets.
Tremors were also felt in the Turkish capital of Ankara, 460 km northwest of the epicentre. In the wake of the quake, Turkish authorities have declared a “level 4 alarm” that calls for international assistance.
In northern Syria, at least 237 people were killed and over 600 injured, said officials. Several buildings were flattened in Aleppo. The tremors were so strong that they were felt as far away as Lebanon and Cyprus.
People took to social media to post footage of the destruction, including collapsed buildings and people trapped under the rubble.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences and offered all possible assistance to Turkey. “Anguished by the loss of lives and damage of property due to earthquake in Turkey. Condolences to bereaved families. May the injured recover soon.
India stands in solidarity with the people of Turkey and is ready to offer all possible assistance to cope with this tragedy,” PM Modi tweeted.
According to the US Geological Survey, a powerful earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck southern Turkey in the wee hours of February 6, followed by another strong temblor of magnitude 6.7.
The initial earthquake was centered 26 km east of Nurdagi city in the Gaziantep province, at a depth of 17.9 km. The second one struck minutes later in central Turkey, at a depth of 9.9 km.
People in the Syrian capital of Damascus, as well as in the Lebanese cities of Beirut and Tripoli ran into the street on foot and took to their cars to get away from their buildings in case of collapses, a witnesses said.