As it happened: Powerful earthquakes kill thousands in Turkey and Syria, bad weather worsens plight of survivors

 

People stand in front of collapsed buildings following an earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Turkey February 6, 2023.Photo: Reuters
People stand in front of collapsed buildings following an earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Turkey February 6, 2023.Photo: Reuters

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared seven days of national mourning following the deadly quakes

By Web Desk, Agencies

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Published: Mon 6 Feb 2023, 9:02 AM

Last updated: Wed 26 Jul 2023, 2:47 PM

[Editor's Note: This blog is now closed. For updates on Day 2 of the Turkey-Syria earthquake aftermath, please click here.]

A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked wide swaths of Turkey and neighbouring Syria on Monday, February 7, killing more than 3,400 people and injuring thousands more as it toppled thousands of buildings and trapped residents under mounds of rubble.


Authorities feared the death toll would keep climbing as rescuers searched through tangles of metal and concrete for survivors. The worst tremor to strike Turkey this century, it came before sunrise in harsh weather and was followed in the early afternoon by another large quake of magnitude 7.7.

The second quake was big enough to bring down more buildings and, like the first, was felt across the region, endangering rescuers struggling to pull casualties from the rubble.


Here are the top developments from February 6, 2023:


11.30pm: This live blog is being closed for the day. Team KT will be back in the morning with the latest updates.


11.03pm: Aerial footage shows the devastation

Drone captures search and rescue works in Syria after a series of powerful earthquakes centred in Turkey jolted the wider region early on Monday. Video: Anadolu Agency


10.09pm: 7 days of national mourning

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared seven days of national mourning following the deadly quakes that hit the country Monday. Turkish flags will fly at half-staff across the nation and at its diplomatic missions overseas.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said at least 1,651 were dead and 11,119 injured across ten provinces. Hundreds more reported dead in neighbouring Syria.


9.01pm: Food and shelter to victims

The Roman Catholic official responsible for the church’s properties across the Middle East is offering food and shelter to victims of Monday’s earthquake.

The Rev. Francesco Patton, the Jerusalem-based Custos of the Holy Land, says he will open all of the church’s buildings in northern Syria to provide shelter for families who have lost their homes.


8.45pm: Schools closed

Turkey’s minister of education said schools throughout the country’s 81 provinces would be closed until Feb. 13 following the deadly earthquake.

Schools were closed for a two-week holiday and were set to open Monday but had remained shut in some cities because of snowstorms.


8.30pm: Silent tribute

Diplomats from the 193 member countries of the United Nations stood in silent tribute Monday to victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi extended “our deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences” to the government and people of both countries.


8pm: 'Gallant Knight / 2' operation

UAE announced the launch of “Gallant Knight / 2” operation to provide assistance for the peoples of Syria and Turkey. The operation includes the participation of the Armed Forces, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation; and the Emirates Red Crescent.


7.30pm: Biden offers condolences

President Joe Biden has conveyed his condolences to those affected by the deadly quake and offered to send U.S. help to Turkey if needed. He added that American officials were coordinating with their Turkish counterparts to discuss what assistance was needed.

“Jill and I were deeply saddened by the news of the devastating earthquakes that have thus far claimed thousands of lives in Turkey and Syria.”


7.15pm: Greek PM offers 'immediate' aid

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis telephoned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offering "immediate assistance" after a deadly earthquake. Erdogan thanked Mitsotakis for the support and the immediate dispatch of rescuers and supplies on a C-130 military plane, the Greek prime minister's office said.

The head of Greece's quake protection agency will accompany the mission, a Greek government spokesman said.


7pm: US help underway

The United States is already responding after a huge earthquake hit central Turkey and northwest Syria, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday.

"Our initial assistance response to Turkey is already underway, and U.S.-supported humanitarian organizations in Syria are responding to the earthquakes’ effects across the country. We are determined to do all that we can to help those affected by these earthquakes in the days, weeks, and months ahead."


6.44pm: Russia extends help

Russian officials say the country’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has called his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar to offer condolences over the quake and proposing assistance.

Moscow is planning to send help to Turkey and Syria despite its western-led international isolaion due the war in Ukraine. Earlier Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a telegram to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to express his condolences.


6.30pm: UAE sends search and rescue team

Under presidential directives, UAE establishes a field hospital and dispatched search and rescue team for people affected by the earthquake in Turkey.

Authorities have been directed the dispatch of a search and rescue team and the provision of urgent relief supplies and emergency aid to those affected by the earthquake in the Syrian Arab Republic to help families in the hardest-hit areas.


Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

6.15pm: Adana Airport remains closed

The airport in the southern Turkish province of Adana was closed for flights until further notice following major earthquakes in the area on Monday, the private Demiroren news agency said.


6pm: US offers help to Turkey

US President Joe Biden has ordered teams to provide quake-hit Turkey 'any and all needed assistance' and to closely monitor situation in coordination with Ankara.


5.40pm: 3rd powerful earthquake strikes Turkey

According to the United States Geological Survey, another earthquake of magnitude 6.0 has struck central Turkey.

This is the third powerful earthquake in the country after two powerful quakes struck the region in less than 24 hours. The initial magnitude 7.8 quake was the worst to hit the country this century, killing more than 900 people there and about 700 across the border in Syria, according to officials.


Rescue workers search for survivors under the rubble following an earthquake in Diyarbakir, Turkey February 6, 2023. Photo: Reuters
Rescue workers search for survivors under the rubble following an earthquake in Diyarbakir, Turkey February 6, 2023. Photo: Reuters

5.15pm: UK to send emergency response teams to Turkey

Britain will send 76 search & rescue specialists, four search dogs and rescue equipment that will arrive in Turkey this evening, the British foreign ministry said.

“We stand ready to provide further support as needed,” foreign minister James Cleverly said in a statement.


5pm: Death toll set to jump

The World Health Organization (WHO) expects a significant jump in the death toll following a major earthquake and its aftershocks in southern Turkey and northwestern Syria that reduced many buildings to rubble.

"I think we can expect the death toll to increase significantly," Rick Brennan, the WHO's regional emergency director for the Eastern Mediterranean, told Reuters. "There's been a lot of building collapses and it will increase more significantly around the epicentre of the earthquake."


4.50pm: Germany's Scholz offers support to Erdogan

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz offered condolences to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan after a powerful earthquake killed more than 1,000 people on Monday, saying Berlin stood ready to help.

"Our thoughts are with the injured, to whom we wish a speedy and full recovery, and with those who have so unexpectedly lost family members. Germany stands ready to provide help and assistance in dealing with this disaster."


4.20pm: Countries where the earthquakes that hit Turkey's southern region were felt:

  • Syria
  • Egypt
  • Lebanon
  • Northern Cyprus
  • Iraq
Photo: Anadolu agency/Twitter
Photo: Anadolu agency/Twitter

4.10pm: Search and rescue works continue after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit the southern provinces of Turkey


4.00pm: At least 592 dead in Syria after Turkey earthquake

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

At least 592 people were killed in Syria as buildings collapsed after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck neighbouring Turkey before dawn on Monday, state media and rescuers said.

AFP correspondents in northern Syria said terrified residents ran from their homes after the earthquake hit near the Turkish city of Gaziantep, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Syrian border.

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Rescuers rushed to dig for survivors under the rubble of collapsed buildings in the pouring winter rain.


3.45pm: India says will send rescue, medical teams to Turkey

India said Monday it would immediately send rescue and medical teams as well as relief material to Turkey following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake there.

"It was decided that Search & Rescue Teams of NDRF and Medical Teams along with relief material would be dispatched immediately in coordination with (Turkey)," the Indian foreign ministry said, referring to the National Disaster Response Force.

Two NDRF teams comprising 100 personnel with dog squads and equipment were ready to be flown to the affected area, it said, with teams of trained doctors and paramedics with essential medicines also being readied.


3.37pm: Rescuers pull out a girl from debris in Turkey's Sanliurfa province


3.21pm: UAE: Syrian, Turkish expats reach out to families back home as earthquakes strike region

Many UAE residents woke up worried this morning as news of a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit southern Turkey and northern Syria early Monday.

They made frantic calls to their families and friends back home to check on their whereabouts.

UAE residents who spoke to extended families and friends said their kin narrated how buildings were flattened and strong aftershocks continued.

UAE expats said that their families told them that rescue workers searched for survivors, cutting tangles of metal and giant piles of concrete, at many of these Middle Eastern cities.

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3.14pm: UAE President makes phone calls to Syrian, Turkish Presidents, expresses condolences and sympathies

UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan made two separate phone calls to President Bashar Al Assad of Syria and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

In these calls, he expressed his heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the two presidents, their people, and the families of those affected by the devastating earthquake that hit the two countries. He also offered his support and solidarity, wishing for a speedy recovery for those who were injured.

The President emphasised the UAE's support for Syria and Turkey and offered to provide any assistance in their efforts to mitigate the impact of the earthquake.

The Presidents of Syria and Turkey expressed their gratitude to His Highness and wished the UAE continued progress and success.


2.45pm: NCM records fresh quake in South Turkey

The UAE's Met Department has recorded a new 7.6 magnitude earthquake in south of Turkey at 2.24pm (UAE time).


2.35pm: Earthquake death toll reaches 326, more than 1,000 injured in Syria

At least 326 people were killed in Syria and more than 1,000 people injured following a major earthquake in neighbouring Turkey, state news agency (SANA) quoted a senior health official as saying on Monday.

"The number of casualties from the earthquake rose to 326 dead and 1,042 injured," Ahmed Damiriyya, an aide to the Syrian health minister, said.


2.17pm: Turkey President Erdogan confirms increased death toll; over 900 dead

The death toll from the 7.7 magnitude earthquake in southern Turkey has risen to 912, President Erdogan says, adding that 5,385 people have been injured. He added that this has been the worst disaster to hit the country since 1939.


2.08pm: At least 386 dead in Syria after Turkey earthquake

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

At least 386 people were killed in Syria on Monday as buildings collapsed after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck neighbouring Turkey, state media and a medical source said.

AFP correspondents in northern Syria said terrified residents ran out of their homes after the earthquake hit before dawn near the Turkish city of Gaziantep, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Syrian border.

The quake killed at least 239 people and left at least another 648 injured in government-controlled parts of Syria, including the cities of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartus, state television said.


1.54pm: Death toll rises to over 600

More than 600 people were killed and thousands injured on Monday when a major earthquake of magnitude 7.8 struck central Turkey and northwest Syria, collapsing buildings and triggering searches for survivors in the rubble.


1.37pm: Turkey's lira slips to fresh record low, stocks tumble

Turkey's lira hit a fresh record low and its stock markets tumbled on Monday as a major earthquake added to pressures from a strong dollar, geopolitical risks and surprise inflation readings out of the country.

The lira slipped to 18.85 in early trade before retracing most of its losses. The country's main equities benchmark dropped as much as 4.6 per cent with banks tumbling more than 5 per cent before paring some losses with key indexes down around 2.5 per cent by 0910 GMT.

"The tragic events with southern part of Turkey being hit by a powerful earthquake is source of additional uncertainty ahead of crucial elections that most likely are going to be held in May," said Piotr Matys, senior FX analyst at In Touch Capital Markets.


1.28pm: 10-year-old girl pulled out from debris of 10-story building in Turkey


1.02pm: People search for survivors through the rubble in Turkey

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

12.40pm: EU sends rescue teams to Turkey after deadly quake

The European Union is sending rescue teams and preparing further help for Turkey after a major earthquake hit Turkey and Syria, the bloc's crisis management commissioner said Monday.

"Teams from the Netherlands and Romania are already on their way," with the EU's Emergency Response Coordination Centre overseeing their deployment, commissioner Janez Lenarcic tweeted.


12.27pm: Massive earthquake kills at least 500 people in Turkey, Syria

The deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit southern Turkey in the early hours of Monday have claimed more than 500 lives in nearby regions as well as Syria, CNN reported.

At least 284 people have been killed and close to 2,300 people were injured in Turkey, the American broadcaster reported citing the country's Vice President Fuat Oktay. He also reported that more than 1,700 buildings were damaged across 10 Turkish cities.


12.03pm: Quake death toll in Turkey soars to 284, official confirms

At least 284 people died in Turkey from a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the country's southeast on Monday, Vice President Fuat Oktay said, updating earlier figures.

Oktay said more than 2,300 people were injured in one of Turkey's biggest quakes in at least a century, adding that search and rescue work continued in several major cities.


11.47am: Neighbouring countries offer help as Turkey crumbles under quake

Turkey's neighbour Greece and other countries in the region have offered to send immediate assistance to help with the rescue effort after Monday's devastating earthquake that struck southeast Turkey and northern Syria.

“Greece is mobilizing its resources and will assist immediately ... (we are) deeply saddened by the devastating earthquake disaster,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wrote in a tweet. Writing in Turkish, Israeli President Isaac Herzog offered help in a message on Twitter, adding: “The State of Israel is always ready to send aid by any means possible. Our hearts go out to the families and Turkish people who are grieving at this painful time.” The Egyptian Foreign Ministry, in a statement early Monday, offered help to both Turkey and Syria following the powerful earthquake.

The deadly quake was felt in the Egyptian capital of Cairo and across parts of the region. The offers assistance were made despite strained relations between Turkey and several countries in the area including Greece and Egypt.


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11.32am: Anadolu Jet offers free flight changes till February 21

In the aftermath of the deadly earthquake, Anadolu Jet, a Turkish airline has offered travellers with the option to change or return their tickets, for free. This will be applicable "between February 6, 2023 and February 21, 2023 for the earthquake zone and the surrounding provinces".

However, travellers can make their ticket changes and refunds through the Turkish Airlines website and mobile application until March 31, 2023.


11.26am: Residents, authorities rescue survivors from rubble

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP
Photo: AP
Photo: AP

11.14am: Countries affected by Monday's earthquake - in one graphic

The major earthquake has affected Turkey and its neighbouring countries. The graphic below, shared by Anadolu agency, shows the impact of the same.


11.07am: Buildings collapse in Turkey after earthquake hits

Warning: Some readers may find the following images disturbing. Viewer discretion advised


10.54am: Italy lifts tsunami warning

Italian authorities said on Monday they had withdrawn a tsunami warning for the country's southern coast that was raised after a major earthquake struck central Turkey and northwest Syria, killing hundreds of people.

Italy's Civil Protection Department had issued a statement recommending people to move away from coastal areas but later reduced the alert and tweeted that it had been withdrawn.

Train traffic in the southern regions of Sicily, Calabria and Apulia had been temporarily halted as a precaution but resumed in the morning, the agency said in the statement.


10.36am: Powerful quake kills at least 360 people in Turkey, Syria

A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit southern Turkey and northern Syria early Monday, toppling buildings and triggering a frantic search for survivors in the rubble in cities and towns across the area. At least 360 were killed and hundreds injured, and the toll was expected to rise.

On both sides of the border, residents jolted out of sleep by the pre-dawn quake rushed outside on a cold, rainy and snowy winter night, as buildings were flattened and strong aftershocks continued.


10.30am: India, Pakistan offer condolences to Turkey

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has offered his condolences to the people of turkey after the massive quake today. He said:

"Anguished by the loss of lives & damage of property due to earthquake in Turkey. Condolences to bereaved families. May the injured recover soon. India stands in solidarity with people of Turkey & is ready to offer all possible assistance to cope with this tragedy."

The Pakistani Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, also put out a tweet condoling the Prime Minister of Turkey and the nation on the devastating event. He said:

"Deeply saddened by the news of a massive earthquake that struck southeastern region of Türkiye. I send my profound condolences & most sincere sympathies to my brother President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan & brotherly people of Türkiye on the loss of precious lives & damage to infrastructure."


10.20am: Syria death toll rises to more than 230

A major earthquake killed more than 200 people and injured more than 600 others in Syria, a senior health official told Syrian state TV on Monday.

"The earthquake toll rose to 237 killed and 639 injured," Ahmed Damiriyye, an aide to Syria's health minister, said.


9.50am: Advisory issued to UAE citizens

The UAE embassy in Ankara has called on citizens to exercise caution due to the earthquake in southern Turkey. The embassy stressed the need to move away from the earthquake zone, follow the safety instructions issued by Turkish authorities, and contact the embassy in emergency cases.

The authority shared two numbers for citizens in need of assistance: +97180024 and +97180044444. It also encouraged them to register for the Twajudi service.


9.45am: Horrific scenes of destruction

The powerful quake that shook Turkey early today morning has left hundreds dead and many more injured. State agency Anadolu shared images of the rescue operations that are currently underway in Turkey.

9.23am: Death toll climbs to 99 in Syria

The death toll in Syria from Monday's quake climbed to 99, according to Syrian state media citing the Health Ministry.

In addition, at least 334 people were injured in Syria. Earlier, 20 people were reported killed in certain areas of the country.


8.55am: Death toll rises to 76 in Turkey quake aftermath

Turkey's emergency service says that the 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed at least 76 people in seven provinces and injured 440 others, in the latest update.


8.24am: Tsunami alert issued in Italy

Italian authorities have issued a tsunami alert after a massive earthquake struck Turkey, early today morning.

In a tweet, an authority warned residents to stay away from coasts and to follow instructions issued by local government bodies.


8.20am: Fatalities on the rise

At least 42 people have been killed, state media said.

"Forty-two deaths and 200 injuries have been reported in Aleppo, Hama and Latakia as a result of the earthquake in a preliminary toll," state news agency SANA said quoting a health ministry official. Read more here.

Meanwhile, at least 10 people were reported killed in Turkey, local Turkish officials said.


7.40am: First images of devastation following powerful earthquake

Syrian state media reported that some buildings collapsed in the northern city of Aleppo and the central city of Hama.

In Syria’s northwest that borders Turkey several buildings collapsed, according to the opposition’s Syrian Civil Defence.

Photos made available showed scenes of devastation with several buildings reduced to rubble and residents and rescuers in the aftermath. Take a look:


7.05am: Turkey hit by 6 earthquakes today, says minister

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said that six earthquakes with magnitudes above 6 had hit the country so far early Monday.

Soylu added that the earthquakes had affected several provinces including Gaziantep, Osmaniye, Malatya, Adıyaman, Adana, Diyarbakır, Kilis, and Sanliurfa.

"Our rescue teams have been dispatched to the region. Our cargo planes were prepared and shipped to the region."

He noted that the country issued a level-4 alarm, which includes a call for international aid.


6.50am: Watch live footage

Turkish state agency, Anadolu, is sharing live footage from the aftermath of the massive quake which struck the region. Watch below:


6.35am: Turkish President issues statement

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took to Twitter to convey get well wishes to citizens affected by the earthquake.

He noted that rescue teams were immediately dispatched to areas affected by the earthquake and added that AFAD and other units are on alert.

"Our Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Health, AFAD, provincial governorships, and all other institutions started their work rapidly.

"We are also coordinating our work after the earthquake. We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage, and we continue our work," he said.


6.20am: 7.8 magnitude earthquake strikes Turkey

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook southeast Turkey early Monday and was followed by another strong temblor. It was felt in several provinces in the region and knocked down a number of buildings

UAE's National Centre of Meteorology recorded the first earthquake at 7.6 magnitude at 05.17am and the second at 6.1 magnitude almost immediately after at 5.29am

.

Turkey sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes.

The earthquake was also felt in Lebanon and Syria, and also affected other countries, including Greece, Jordan, Iraq and the UK.

(With input from Agencies)

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