Syria and Turkey earthquake: what we know so far

Syria and Turkey earthquake: what we know so far

Syria and Turkey earthquake

Two powerful earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria within 12 hours on Monday, killing at least 2,600 people, with the death toll expected to rise

At least 2,600 people have been killed after two powerful earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria within the space of 12 hours. The death toll is expected to rise, with search and rescue operations under way across the region as many buildings have collapsed and there are thought to be many people trapped in the rubble.

Official figures from Turkey said 1,651 people were killed in 10 provinces, with another 11,119 injured, according to the country’s health minister. The death toll in government-held areas of Syria rose to 968 people, with 1,280 injured, according to data from the Damascus government and rescue workers in the north-western region controlled by insurgents.

More than 10 search-and-rescue teams from the European Union had been mobilised since the earthquake, a spokesperson for the European Commission said. The US, UK, Canada, Israel, Russia and China were among other nations to have offered assistance, and calls have emerged for the international community to relax some of the political restrictions on aid entering north-west Syria, the country’s last rebel-held enclave and one of the areas worst hit by the earthquake.

The first quake struck as people slept, and measured magnitude 7.8, one of the most powerful quakes in the region in at least a century. It was felt as far away as Cyprus and Cairo. The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said preliminary data showed the second large quake measured 7.7 magnitude, and was 42 miles (67km) north-east of Kahramanmaraş, Turkey, at a depth of 2,000 metres. There have been more than 100 smaller aftershocks registered by seismologists.

The partial destruction of a Roman-era castle in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, near where the first quake had its epicentre, led to fears that the earthquakes may have damaged other priceless monuments in Turkey and Syria, areas rich in cultural heritage.

Turkey’s armed forces set up an air corridor to enable search-and-rescue teams to reach the zone affected.

Turkey’s Akkuyu nuclear power plant, which is under construction, was not damaged by the earthquake, an official from the Russian company building the plant said.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has called for increased funding for humanitarian aid in Syria, saying that many people in the north-west of the country have already been displaced up to 20 times, and that medical care in the region was “strained beyond capacity, even before this tragedy”.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it was concerned about areas in Turkey from which there had been no news since the earthquake.

In 1999, a tremor of similar magnitude to today’s quakes in Turkey devastated İzmit, killing more than 17,000. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has described Monday as the worst disaster for the country since 1939, when an earthquake killed more than 32,000 people and injured more than 100,000.

There were no reports of British deaths in the earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria, said the UK foreign secretary, James Cleverly, acknowledging the relief effort was still at an early stage.

the guardian

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