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Deadly Earthquake Kills Thousands in Syria and Türkiye

posted on: Feb 8, 2023

Deadly Earthquake that Killed Thousands in Syria and Türkiye
Photo captured of a father holding the hand of his daughter stuck under the rubble. Photo: Mirror

By: Souria Dabbousi / Arab America Contributing Writer

In the early hours of Monday, February 6, terror struck in Turkey near the city of Gaziantep. The magnitude 7.8 quake killed and injured thousands. It was Turkey’s most powerful earthquake since 1939. The neighboring countries of Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Iraq also felt aftershocks of this deadly earthquake.

As of the time of writing, the death toll of this deadly disaster has reached more than 11,000 people, and injuries of at least 20,000. It is expected to increase in the upcoming hours as more bodies are discovered. There has been an estimated 14 quakes in the region and an estimate of about 285 aftershocks. More than 30 countries have offered or already sent help. Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said nearly 8,000 people have been rescued from 4,758 buildings that were destroyed during the earthquake. 


Deadly Earthquake that Killed Thousands in Syria and Türkiye
The aftermath of the earthquake in Türkiye. Photo: The Conversation

The president of Türkiye, Tayyip Erdogan, declared on Tuesday a three-month state of emergency in the country. He also declared 10 cities in the country an earthquake disaster zone. These 10 cities are Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Hatay, Osmaniye, Malatya, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Sanliurfa, Kilis, and Adana. 

Philippe Leclerc, UNHCR Representative in Türkiye said, “The situation is tragic, and we are witnessing it every day on the ground in the 10 provinces which are affected by the earthquakes. We are witnessing again the disastrous effect of it on the lives of families, be they Turkish or others, because these 10 regions are hosting the largest refugee population in the world. More than 1.7 million of the 15 million inhabiting these provinces are Syrian Refugees, and in some of these provinces, 1 out of every 2 is a refugee…. And what we appreciate as always with the Turkish authorities is that no difference is made between any person, it is a humanitarian effort, a humanitarian inclusive policy that has been led by Türkiye for more than 12 years. Syrian, Turkish, whoever is a victim will be treated the same.”


Deadly Earthquake that Killed Thousands in Syria and Türkiye
The destruction caused by the earthquake in Syria. Photo: Aljazeera

As for Syria, which still carries the scars of a 12-year horrific civil war, the repercussions of which will probably make it more difficult to provide help in the earthquake’s worst-hit areas. The nation’s national infrastructure has been at a breaking point for years, barely able to feed its war-weary population as it has been plagued by violence, food shortages, economic collapse, and a recent cholera outbreak. 

And this was before it endured the region’s most devastating earthquake in decades.

The region that was most affected by this terrible tragedy is Aleppo, which is the northern part of Syria that borders Türkiye. Before this event, it was already devastated by years of warfare and aircraft bombing that destroyed homes, clinics, and hospitals.

Due to the country’s current situation, providing aid has been difficult. Fuel shortages, damaged roads, and the harsh weather have affected getting help to those in need. Additionally, just one border crossing is permitted for help to access the region by the government in Damascus. According to the Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity, all crossings must be opened on an emergency basis. 

“We are used to digging people out of the rubble but this is different. So many people are still stuck and they will die because we don’t have enough equipment to get to them all. There is nothing left, nothing at all.”

Close to 3,000 deaths have been documented overall in Syria; however, medical professionals estimate that the actual death toll will likely be significantly higher because many more people are still believed to be trapped beneath debris.

On Monday, there was chaos at hospitals and clinics throughout the northwest of the nation. According to a spokeswoman for the Syrian American Medical Society, two of the four medical facilities had to be entirely evacuated, and four of them had sustained significant damage. “Doctors described being so overwhelmed they began treating patients in hallways while bodies piled up next to them, rubble dust choking healthcare workers and survivors.”

“I have treated lots of children today and I am afraid there are lots more dead under the debris to come. People will run out of air and die,” said Dr. Osama Salloum, who works at the Bab al-Hawa hospital near the Turkish border.

How Can I Help?

Deadly Earthquake that Killed Thousands in Syria and Türkiye

Here is a list of ways you can contribute and help save the lives of children and families that have been affected by this terrible disaster:

From now until 2/9, 100% of all purchases will be donated to the Türkiye/Syria earthquake relief.

Check out our blog here!