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Earthquake hits Turkey and Syria killing hundreds – and felt elsewhere in the Middle East

According to authorities, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake has shaken Turkey, Syria and killed at least 568 people.

At six miles deep, the quake struck the town of Pazarcik, Kahramanmaras provincial, approximately 20 miles from Gaziantep. There were also several powerful aftershocks.

Death toll rises as rescue teams race against the clock – live updates

According to images from state broadcaster TRT, several buildings were destroyed by people who gathered on the streets of Pazarcik.


Residents and rescue workers were using flashlights to search through the rubble and metal tangles in one of these stricken areas.

Erdem, a Gaziantep resident, said that “I have never felt anything similar in the 40 years I’ve been alive.”

“We were shaken very strongly at least three times, almost like a baby in a crib.”

Image Rescuer takes a child who is injured from the rubble of a building
Image A scene in Malatya
Image: A collection of damaged vehicles is parked in front a collapsing building. Pic by AP

According to Osmaniye’s governor, 34 buildings were damaged by the earthquake. Malatya’s governor said that 130 buildings had been destroyed in his province.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdan stated on Twitter that search and rescue teams were dispatched to areas affected by the earthquake.

He wrote, “We hope we will get through the disaster together as quickly as possible and with as little damage as possible.”

Suleyman Soylu, Interior Minister, stated that “Our priority” is to rescue people from under destroyed buildings and transfer them to hospitals.

Image: A collapsed structure in Pazarcik (Kahramanmaras) province. Pic AP
Image: Diyarbakir’s rescue workers and medical teams. Pic: AP

HaberTurk television reported that several buildings were destroyed in neighbouring provinces Malatya, Diyarbakir. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

About 10 minutes later, a strong 6.7 aftershock rattled.

“We are under extreme pressure”

The quake struck the Syrian border and shattered opposition-held areas that were home to several million Syrian refugees. They also have a decrepit healthcare system, which has been ravaged by years of war.

At least 11 people were killed in Atmeh and many others were buried under rubble. Muheeb Qaddour a doctor in Atmeh told The Associated Press via telephone.

Dr Qaddour stated that “we fear that there will be hundreds of deaths,” referring to the rebel-held northwest. “We are under extreme stress.”

Syria’s state media reported buildings collapsing in Aleppo, the capital city, and Hama, the central city.

Image: Rescue teams and people try to reach residents trapped in collapsed buildings in Adana, Turkey. Pic by AP
Image: Diyarbakir residents are being trapped by people. Pic by AP

The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defence called the situation in rebel-held areas “disastrous” and said that many buildings had collapsed and that people were trapped beneath the rubble. Civil defense urged citizens to evacuate buildings and gather in open areas.

The timing of the earthquake is what causes rapidly rising death tolls – and why it will prove difficult to get assistance to Syria

Images from northwest Syria and southern Turkey are very grim.

The earthquake occurred before dawn, when most people were asleep in bed.

This factor will likely increase the rapidly rising death toll and cause severe aftershocks.

As rescue workers race against the clock to find survivors, the next hours will be critical. Turkey has already declared an emergency, and international aid is being offered.

Particularly concerning is the situation in northern Syria. This region has been through 12 years of civil conflict, resulting in many buildings being damaged or destroyed and hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the fighting.

It will be difficult to get aid into this part of Syria.

Dubai has a major aid hub. There are warehouses full of humanitarian and medical supplies that can be flown if Turkey or Syria is possible.

Turkey is on a faultline and has had a history with earthquakes. This will allow it to have some ground expertise, but this is already looking like a major catastrophe that will require all international assistance.

Tremors felt even further than Egypt

There were reports that buildings in Beirut and Damascus were shaking, and people were rushing to the streets in fear.

No reports have been received of any deaths or severe damage in Egypt, Lebanon, or Cyprus. The quake was felt also in Cyprus.

Maria Caulfield (Minister for Mental Health and Women’s Health Strategy), told Sky’s Kay Burley that the UK was working with Turkey to offer assistance.

Jake Sullivan, White House national security advisor, tweeted that the United States was “profoundly worried” about the quake in Turkey or Syria.

He said that he had spoken to Turkish officials and was ready to assist in any way he could.

Turkey is located on top of major faultlines and is often shaken by earthquakes.


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