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‘We fled from death to death’: Snapchat offers glimpse into quake recovery effort in war-torn Syria

Hussein posts Snapchat videos of him hanging out with friends, but his profile now shows disturbing scenes of people trying to rescue them from the rubble of a fallen building.

Sky News text message: “All my relatives are dead,” he says.

He explained that all residents of this neighborhood near Harim, the Syrian border town, were affected by the seismic Monday. Many people are now dead, and only a few have been saved from the rubble.

Hussein and his family fled Idlib to escape the Syrian civil war.


He said, “We fled from death and death to death.”

Hussein said that everyone who lived in the same house as his family died, even his young cousin. People who had been sleeping in other places survived the earthquake, but now have to live in tents.

He says, “We are afraid.”

This clip by Hussein shows that the recovery efforts following Monday’s earthquake are well underway.

The area where Hussein resides in northwestern Syria has been severely damaged by the country’s war.

Journalists find it more difficult to reach these areas than locations in Turkey. This is the epicenter of the earthquake. Images and videos claiming to be from Syria are often difficult to verify.

Snapchat’s map feature allows us to see where people are located. We can see mountains of rubble, frost on the ground and food bags being distributed.

Small charities in Syria that work with earthquake survivors have already begun to turn their attentions to this issue.

Little Hearts, a charity that helps people in need, shared a video showing their work in Idlib. The video shows many tables covered with boxes that contain food and drink. They also prepare large quantities of hot meals simultaneously. Sky News was told by the group that they also distribute blankets and clothes.

As people in Turkey and Syria begin to make the first steps towards recovery from the devastating earthquake the full extent of its effects is still being felt.

This map, from the United Nations, shows seismic activity starting with the first earthquake and continuing through the subsequent tremors.

This map shows the intensity of seismic activity. The more intense the tremors, the redder the area.

These circles indicate the locations of the tremors…

…with the stars indicating the two largest quakes.

This map provides an indication of the extent of the catastrophe.

The longest uninterrupted area of seismic activity from north to south measures 375 miles

Looking west to east, you will see that the longest continuous area of seismic activity is just over 400 miles.

If we take a look at the entire area, it is clear that nearly 100,000 square miles have been affected.

Similar efforts are being made in Turkey to assist victims of the same tragedies as those in Syria via the Snapchat map. The number of deaths in both countries now exceeds 11,200.

This is the way it is in Turkey.


Kahramanmars, home to approximately 1.2 million people, is near the epicenter of the first major earthquake.

Zooming in, you can see that the city is at the edge of severe seismic activity.

Moving even closer…

The majority of the city lies in the yellow, or’strong activity zone.

All of the red buildings have been destroyed when the earthquake filter is removed. The buildings in orange and yellow have been damaged or may be damaged.

You can see some of the building damage in satellite photos such as those provided by Planet. Visible debris and dust are visible on the streets.

A mobile hospital was set up on the outskirts to treat earthquake victims. Videos of the temporary hospital were posted by the Turkish ministry of defense on Twitter.


Antayka, the capital of Hatay is located in the south of Turkey. It borders Syria.

It is characterized by strong and moderate seismic activity, as shown by the yellow-green areas.

Zooming in even further to remove the seismic filter

The map shows that a lot of buildings could be damaged (shown yellow), with significant damage to one part of the city’s southern end, with buildings in orange (damaged) and red (collapsed).

British search and rescue professionals and their dogs flew from the UK to Antakya to aid the city’s recovery efforts. They were one of many international teams that came to support the city.

Some people believe that assistance is not coming quickly enough. Antakya residents told Sky News there was a “time-lag”, which led to locals fighting for supplies.

As temperatures dropped overnight, people were forced to heat themselves by lighting fires in the streets.

Access to Twitter from Turkey was blocked on Wednesday due to complaints about the Turkish government’s handling of the disaster. According to Net Blocks, the authorities claimed they were concerned about disinformation spreading. They also previously restricted access to social media during other national emergencies.


The large city of Malatya is located to the north of the affected area.

The city is located in an area of strong (orange-colored) seismic activity with stronger (red-colored) earthquakes nearby.

We zoom in more…

The heavy cloud over the region, as seen in this NASA satellite image, blocks any view of images of the area from Monday’s earthquake.

As in many other parts of Turkey, this means that we don’t yet know the extent of damage to buildings in this large urban area.

The city was also covered in snow and the temperatures have been extremely difficult to recover from the catastrophe.

Many people are now homeless in the aftermath of the earthquake and have to live in tents such as this one in snowy Malatya.

Many people are forced to cover themselves with blankets after losing their belongings.

Many countries as well as charities from around the globe have offered aid to affected areas, but it’s not easy to get that help.

Most of the offers of assistance were sent to Turkey rather than war-torn Syria.

The areas impacted by the earthquake cover both government-controlled territory and opposition-held land in Syria. This complicates the task of providing aid to victims of natural disasters.

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This map shows the roads that the UN and World Food Programme were able to identify as passable, blocked or partially blocked to aid rescue operations in Turkey and Syria.

Although it is not comprehensive, it does show that there are fewer roads in Syria than Turkey.

It also indicates that many roads are blocked as shown by the red lines.

Image: The green routes are possible, but not all of them. These areas, which are orange, yellow, and light green, indicate where seismic activity was detected. Orange is the area where the strongest force was felt. Pic by LogIE

As time draws near for rescue efforts to save anyone still alive beneath the rubble, the focus will shift to how these countries will recover. Some fear that Syria may not be able to get the same help from its more connected neighbor.


Data and Forensics

team is a multi-skilled unit dedicated to providing transparent journalism from Sky News. We gather, analyse and visualise data to tell data-driven stories. We combine traditional reporting skills with advanced analysis of satellite images, social media and other open source information. Through multimedia storytelling we aim to better explain the world while also showing how our journalism is done.

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