Recent events in the Nations of Syria and Turkey have led to drastic changes for their people. At the beginning of 2023, a record breaking, catastrophic earthquake struck the countries, and the damage from the disaster seems to be irreversible.
One of the worst hit areas in Syria
On February 6, 2023, “Kahramanmaras”, an enormous earthquake, struck a large portion of Turkey and northwest Syria. The earthquake is responsible for the death of over 41,000 people, solely in Turkey, and the harsh winter conditions in the area have worsened the fight of thousands left injured or homeless.
The earthquake hit a record-breaking magnitude of 7.8, and has completely brought down cities, apartment blocks, important infrastructure, along with simply piling more devastation onto the Syrians already displaced by the war in their country. The earthquake struck before sunrise initially, which was followed by another strike in the late afternoon of the same day.
Abdul Salam al-Mahmoud, a Syrian in the northern town of Atareb, stated that the situation is like “the apocalypse”, stating that it’s “bitterly cold and there's heavy rain, and people need saving.” Additionally, a woman with a broken arm and injured face in southeast Turkey vocalised that her and her family “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."
The earthquake was deemed the largest earthquake to hit on earth since August of 2021. The death toll in Syria currently stands at around 5,800, making it, according to the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), the deadliest earthquake to hit the area since 1999.
Map of where the earthquake was the shakiest.
Due to poor internet access and completely damaging roads, getting access and being able to rescue civilians in Turkey is extremely difficult. After the earthquake, temperatures fell to near freezing overnight, and rain and snowstorms swept the country heavily.
The Turkish current president, Tayyip Erdogan, declared the quake as a “historic disaster”, and considered it the worst earthquake to hit the nation since 1932. However, he stated that authorities are doing all they can in hopes to recover, and that “everyone is putting their heart and soul into efforts although the winter season, cold weather and the earthquake happening during the night makes things more difficult".
According to the United Nations, 4.1 million people are currently dependent on humanitarian aid. A large portion of them are displaced and are now living in refugee camps, relying on international support.
Along with Kahramanmaras, which struck on February 6th, more than 100 aftershocks were recorded. The death toll seems to be rising, and people are still being advised to not enter buildings due to the risk of them collapsing. Hopes of encountering missing people alive seem to be decreasing, however more and more countries (currently 95) are offering help. This current catastrophe will never be forgotten.