A 7.8-magnitude quake struck east of Gaziantep, knocking down buildings and causing hundreds of people to flee into the streets in the winter morning of 6 February. The quake, which struck at 04:17 local time (01:17 GMT), lasted for more than a minute causing unprecedented damage to homes and buildings. Then, after a series of aftershocks, another powerful earthquake hit, measuring 7.5-magnitude at 1:24 p.m. local time, further causing devastation to the already shattered cities. Search for survivors is underway.
The US Geological Survey said the earthquake was centered about 33km (20 miles) from Gaziantep, a major city and provincial capital. It was about 18km (11 miles) deep, and a strong 6.7 aftershock rumbled about 10 minutes later.
Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 10 cities were affected: Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Hatay, Osmaniye, Adiyaman, Malatya, Sanliurfa, Adana, Diyarbakir and Kilis although the quake and aftershocks were felt in Syria, Lebanon, and Cyprus.
More than 2,400 people were killed and hundreds more injured in Turkiye, according to the country’s disaster management agency AFAD. In neighboring Syria, hundreds of people have died, Syrian state-run news agency SANA reported, citing a Health Ministry official.
Video shared on social media showed dozens of collapsed buildings, while frightened residents huddled on the darkened streets amid the chaos. Rescue workers can be seen conducting search-and-rescue operations by flashlight.
It is believed to be the strongest earthquake to hit Turkiye since 1939, when a quake of the same magnitude killed 30,000 people, according to the US Geological Survey. Still fresh in many people’s minds is the 7.6-magnitude 1999 Izmit earthquake, which caused monumental damage and killed more than 18,000 people, making the earthquakes of 6 February particularly traumatic for those who remember. Earthquakes of this magnitude are rare, with fewer than five occurring each year on average, anywhere in the world. However, Turkiye has been the center for such quakes on numerous occasions.
In Syria, deaths were reported in Aleppo, Hama and Latakia, SANA reports. Dozens of people are trapped under rubble, according to the “White Helmets” group, officially known as the Syria Civil Defense.
Strong aftershocks have been felt in southern and central Turkiye. About 10 minutes after the main quake hit, the strongest aftershock of 6.7-magnitude hit about 32 kilometers (20 miles) northwest of the main quake’s epicenter. Another intense aftershock with a magnitude of 5.6 then occurred 19 minutes after the main quake. Around 1:24 p.m. the area was rocked by another tremor with a 7.5-magnitude, further devastating the area.
The governor of Gaziantep, Davut Gul, said on Twitter, “The earthquake was felt strongly in our city,” and advised the public to wait outside their homes and stay calm. “Please let’s wait outside without panic. Let’s not use our cars. Let’s not crowd the main roads. Let’s not keep the phones busy,” he said.
International Blue Crescent (IBC) has begun relief efforts working from offices in the cities of Gaziantep (responding to Gaziantep and Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of the disaster), and Hatay where severe damage has been reported. IBC offices in Kilis are serving Northern Syria and IBC is providing relief and aid to Diyarbakir and Malatya from the Sanliurfa office.
IBC has mobilized its entire capacity in the region and an emergency response coordination The center has been established in Gaziantep to coordinate all regional operations.