Two massive earthquakes rock Turkey and Syria as death toll exceeds 2,400

People search through rubble following an earthquake in Adana, Turkey February 6, 2023. 

Iha | Reuters

A second earthquake of 7.6 magnitude struck southern Turkey on Monday, within 12 hours of a first massive quake that already claimed hundreds of Turkish and Syrian lives.

Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority said the second quake took place at 1:32 p.m. local time at a 7km depth and had its epicenter in the Elbistan region of the Kahramanmaras province. The first powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake also rocked southeastern Turkey and northern Syria earlier on Monday.

The total combined death toll has climbed to 2,452. In Turkey, 1,541 are reportedly dead, 9,733 injured with around 3,471 buildings collapsing during the catastrophic incident, according to the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority. Earlier on Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the event as the “biggest disaster” since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake.

Syria’s Health Ministry reported 461 deaths and 1,326 injured in the Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartous regions. The humanitarian White Helmets rescue service, which operates in the opposition-controlled parts of Syria, most recently estimated regional Syrian life losses near 381, with over 1,000 injured.

Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government has temporarily interrupted export flows of its crude oil through the Kurdistan-Turkey pipeline leading to Turkish port Ceyhan, as a result of the earthquake.

“The exportation will resume after careful inspection of the pipelines finalized,” KRG spokesperson Lawk Ghafuri said on Twitter.

People search through rubble following an earthquake in Diyarbakir, Turkey February 6, 2023.

Sertac Kayar | Reuters

The European Union said in a statement that it has mobilized 10 search and rescue teams in response to the tragedy: “10 Urban Search and Rescue teams have been quickly mobilised from Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, and Romania to support the first responders on the ground,” it said.

“Italy and Hungary have offered their rescue teams to Türkiye as well. The EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre is in direct contact with the authorities in Türkiye to coordinate further support if needed.”

The EU said it is also ready to offer support to Syria through its humanitarian assistance programs. The EU Council in May 2022 extended its sanctions against President Bashar Assad’s regime for an additional year, stretching to June 2023, “in light of its continued repression of the civilian population in the country.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has extended condolences and an offer of assistance to Ankara and Damascus, Moscow’s state news agency Tass reported. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying his country had received and would honor requests for aid from both Turkey and Syria — in a rare instance of cooperation with Damascus, with whom Israel has entertained tense relations.

People search through rubble following an earthquake in Diyarbakir, Turkey February 6, 2023.

Sertac Kayar | Reuters

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