Turkey: Şanlıurfa building collapses hours after earthquake
The death toll from two “apocalyptic” earthquakes that devastated parts of Turkey and Syria could reach 10,000, it is feared. At least 3,000 people have been killed by the powerful 7.8 and 7.5- magnitude quakes, but experts believe the figure will rise dramatically.Rescuers were racing against the clock to save scores of survivors trapped under the rubble of some 3,000 buildings flattened in Turkey alone. Most victims were asleep when the first quake hit at 4am, collapsing numerous tower blocks instantly but leaving others untouched.
Frantic family members used their bare hands to dig through rubble in a desperate attempt to find loved ones.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that the devastation was the worst disaster to hit his country for a century and had decimated at least 10 cities.
One shocked survivor said: “We thought it was the apocalypse.”
Turkish authorities said last night that 2,316 people had been killed and 13,293 injured in the devastating earthquake.
That brought the total number of victims to 3,613, with 1,297 fatalities in Syria.
Experts have warned the overall figure could reach as high as 10,000.
The emergency services added that 7,340 people had been rescued so far. Thousands more are believed to be trapped in the rubble.
A quake of the same magnitude in Turkey in 1939 ended up killing 32,000.
The British Government immediately sent 76 search and rescue specialists as they joined the international aid effort.
And seismologists said they were stunned by the sheer intensity of Monday’s initial 7.8 quake, which was followed hours later by a second 7.5 tremor.
Erdogan warned that the devastation was the worst disaster to hit his country for a century
Most of the dead were trapped beneath collapsed buildings, but survivors also found themselves pinned under tons of rubble, sparking a massive rescue effort.
Nearly 3,000 buildings collapsed in total in Turkey alone, with many others left badly damaged and in danger of crashing to the ground.
Destroyed buildings were reported in a wide area spanning from the Syrian cities of Aleppo and Hama to Turkey’s Diyarbakir, more than 200 miles to the northeast.
The initial huge quake, which was followed by around 120 aftershocks across the day, began shortly after 4am local time.
As well as affecting most of Turkey, it also brought widespread devastation to the north of neighbouring Syria and was felt much further afield – as far away as Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Cyprus and even Greenland.
Personal stories of death and despair quickly began to emerge. Voices and desperate yelling could be heard from beneath levelled buildings in numerous cities.
Footage of the devastation also quickly began circulating on social media. One video showed the total collapse of a building in Sanliurfa. Just over the border, in the town of Azaz, Syria, a rescuer was seen desperately running through a mountain of debris with an injured child in his arms.
In other footage, a tearful 10-year-old girl in bloodied pyjamas was seen being rescued from a pile of rubble in Osmaniye, while rescue workers were pictured on top of a huge mound of rubble as they searched for other survivors.
Nearly 3,000 buildings collapsed in total in Turkey alone
Other videos showed desperate survivors clinging to the top of damaged buildings in Sarmada, Syria, as rescue workers toiled to get to them.
Many had narrow escapes. Gokce Bay, who had a kidney transplant on Sunday, was at a hospital in Gaziantep, with a drip attached to her arm. “I was on the second floor of the hospital when the earthquake started. I don’t even remember how I pulled the drip off my arm,” she said.
“It was so strong and I wanted to get out of the building. Everyone held on to each other to help, we all thought that we wouldn’t be able to make it and die. When we made it to the street, all of us started crying.
“We survived but we were all in-patients and we were out in the very cold weather. I had a kidney operation only on Monday and now I am out with my flip flops under the rain, my feet are soaking wet.”
Melisa Salman, who is based in Kahramanmaras, said living in an earthquake zone meant she was used to “being shaken”, but that today was “the first time we have ever experienced anything like that”. She added: “We thought it was the apocalypse.”
After the initial shock, a second major earthquake then hit the region at 1.24pm on Monday, measuring 7.5 magnitude and causing more destruction to the rescue operation, which was by then already well underway. But it was the first quake that caused the most damage, authorities said.
Many families were crushed to death in their sleep as their homes or flats collapsed into rubble during the severe shaking, which lasted for about a minute and a half. Others, gripped by panic, ran into the streets to avoid the devastation as buildings shook violently.
The earthquake’s epicentre was near the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep and it struck most violently in cities across south-east Turkey and northern Syria. It was then followed by a wave of at least 40 aftershocks, authorities said, and then the second quake at lunchtime. Many provinces, such as Hatay, were decimated.
In Syria, civilians helped officials conduct a huge search and rescue operation in Idlib.
Turkish President Mr Erdogan said: “We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible.”
oices and desperate yelling could be heard from beneath levelled buildings
”Building shook and we ran for it, no one expected to survive”
A British teacher told how he fled his family’s shaking apartment building in the snow, writes Sarah O’Grady, Social Affairs Correspondent. Russell Peagram was visiting his wife Ezra’s relatives in Gaziantep when the quake hit. The geography teacher from Southend-on-Sea in Essex was fast asleep when he was thrown from his bed.
“It was horrific,” he said. “I’ve probably taught earthquakes every year for 20 years but nothing prepared me for one.
“Everyone just woke up and froze in shock. You can’t believe it’s happening.
“The whole building was shaking violently from side to side. Things falling down, then instinct just kicks in.
“I grabbed my wife’s arm, got the rest of the family and we just ran. Didn’t care what we were carrying or wearing.
“Just got my car keys and wallet and ran out of the building as fast as we could.”
The six-strong family grabbed their cat and ran out into the snow with no shoes on in their haste to reach safety.
‘Building shook and we ran for it, no one expected to survive’
Russell added: “Other families started to trickle out from the other apartment building complex. Neighbours got together. It was teamwork.
“If there was an old lady or old man who had come down and if you had space in your car, everyone was getting blankets and sharing what they could.
“People were freezing. Some were lucky enough to have cars. Others lit fires on the streets.”
His family spent the night in their cars and he returned to the flat the next morning.
“Things have been knocked off the walls and there are lots of cracks,” he said.
“In the end, you have to take your chance and run quickly back into the apartment to get more supplies.
“The two petrol stations I went into were completely ransacked.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who was not as lucky as us.
“We just can’t believe what happened. And what happened, happened very quickly.
“One minute you’re fine, sound asleep, the next minute you could be dead. No one thought they would get out alive. No one.”
A view of collapsed Galeria Business Center in Diyarbakir
45 nations join race against time to save thousands feared trapped in rubble
Britain, Europe and the US were last night leading a 45-nation international rescue effort to help Turkey and Syria following Monday’s earthquakes which left
thousands dead, writes Mark Reynolds.
As the scale of the tragedy began to emerge, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly pledged the UK would “stand ready to provide assistance”. This was quickly followed by a promise of solidarity and help from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
He said: “My thoughts are with the people of Turkey and Syria, particularly those first responders working so valiantly to save those trapped by the earthquake.
“The UK stands ready to help in whatever way we can.”
Britain immediately sent 76 search and rescue specialists, four search dogs and rescue equipment, which arrived in Turkey last night.
The team has specialist search equipment including seismic listening devices, concrete cutting and breaking equipment, propping and shoring tools.
An emergency medical team was also being flown out from Britain.
Rescue workers attend the scene of a collapsed building on February 06, 2023 in Iskenderun Turkey
Mr Cleverly said in northwest Syria, UK-funded White Helmet rescuers have also mobilised.
The Government said it was also in contact with British humanitarian workers in the areas and stood ready to provide support to any UK nationals affected. The British Red Cross announced it had instantly released £25,000 from its Disaster Fund to enhance the immediate response and will support this in a full emergency appeal.
Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, said: “It is shocking to see the scale of destruction caused by this earthquake – more than a thousand people have been killed and homes, hospitals and roads have been destroyed across the region.
“The priority right now is rescuing people from the rubble and Red Cross Red Crescent teams are on the ground in Syria and Turkey providing urgent support during these critical hours.
“The British Red Cross is launching an emergency appeal to help get vital aid to those that need it most. Please give if you are able so we can support those in need.”
The US also said it would provide aid in the coming weeks and months.
The European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said the EU’s 24/7 Emergency Response Coordination Centre had been in contact with the Turkish authorities and had activated its emergency Copernicus satellite mapping service to help first responders working on the ground.
Aftermath showing ruined residential buildings in Maraş
Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said its Civil Protection was standing by to contribute support and provide first aid. Poland sent its rescue group HUSAR, consisting of 76 firemen and eight rescue dogs.
Spain’s Interior Ministry said Spanish urban rescue teams were also preparing to travel to Turkey.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said all authorities had been instructed to make immediate preparations to provide medical and search and rescue assistance.
The Indian government pledged to send two teams from its National Disaster Response Force.
They comprise some 100 personnel with specially trained dog squads and equipment which were last night already being flown to the disaster area for search and rescue operations.
Medical teams were also being readied and relief material being sent in coordination with the Turkish authorities, said India.
With the danger of major disease outbreaks following the disaster, particularly typhoid and cholera, the World Health Organisation said its network of emergency medical teams had been activated to provide essential health care for the injured and most vulnerable.
But experts said the scale of the task ahead of rescuers was immense and would be hampered by the freezing weather and the fact that over the border in Syria, a civil war continues to rage.
Professor Pavel Albores, of Aston University’s Crisis Management Centre, said: “Since the earthquake in 1999, Turkey has invested over $1billion in preparedness, but there are still many buildings that are not earthquake-resistant, leading to the current devastation.
“The initial priority is to rescue survivors in collapsed buildings but with low temperatures, subsequent earthquakes and the untold damage makes this very problematic.
“There is an immediate need to provide shelter and to put in place the necessary humanitarian logistics, but these efforts will be hampered by the damage to pre-allocated relief centres and to the transport infrastructure.” Rescue efforts in the coming days will particularly be hit by the sub-zero weather conditions dominating some of the areas.
In the Turkish region around the epicentre of the first quake, heavy rain is expected, while temperatures will be 3 to 4C in the day and well below freezing at night.
Several inches of snow is also set to fall, while further north heavier snow is expected.
In more mountainous regions, temperatures are not expected to rise above freezing at all in the coming days, which could mean snowfall of 50 to 100 centimetres.
At least 2,800 buildings are thought to have been destroyed in the morning’s first quake, meaning many thousands could be left without shelter.
The UK Foreign Office also last night released a new travel warning for Turkey following the quake. Travellers were urged to completely avoid the southeast region and follow the advice of local authorities.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “There have been several strong aftershocks and the Turkish government has announced its highest level of state emergency.
“You should avoid the southeast region of Turkey and follow the advice of the local authorities.”
Star Atsu rescued
Former Chelsea and Newcastle footballer Christian Atsu has been rescued after being trapped under rubble, say reports.
It is understood the 31-year-old was on the ninth floor of an apartment block when the first of two quakes rocked Kahramanmaras.
The Ghana star who plays for Hatayspor, suffered breathing difficulties and injuries to his right foot.
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A 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Monday devastated wide swaths of Turkey and Syria, killing thousands of people, writes Maddie Burakoff.
Here is what is known about the earthquake.
– What happened?
The quake hit at a depth of 11 miles (18km) and was centred in southern Turkey, near the northern border of Syria, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).
Many aftershocks have rocked the area since the initial earthquake. In the first 11 hours, the region had felt 13 significant aftershocks with a magnitude of at least five, said Alex Hatem, a USGS research geologist.
Scientists are studying whether a magnitude 7.5 earthquake that hit nine hours after the main shock is an aftershock. Ms Hatem said it appears to be the case.
“More aftershocks are certainly expected, given the size of the shock,” Ms Hatem said. “We expect aftershocks to continue in the coming days, weeks and months.”
– What type of earthquake was this?
Researchers said the earthquake was a strike-slip quake, where two tectonic plates slide past each other horizontally, instead of moving up and down.
In this case, one block moved west while the other moved east – grinding past each other to create the quake, Ms Hatem said.
The quake occurred in a seismically active area known as the East Anatolian fault zone, which has produced damaging earthquakes in the past.
Turkey had another major earthquake in January 2020 – a magnitude 6.7 that caused significant damage.
– Why was this earthquake so devastating?
The earthquake was powerful – one of the biggest strike-slip earthquakes that has hit on land, Ms Hatem said.
“On top of that, it’s located near populated areas,” she added.
Building collapses were reported in cities including Diyarbakir, Turkey, and Aleppo, Syria.
Rescue efforts were also hampered by freezing temperatures and traffic jams from residents trying to leave earthquake-stricken areas.