Updated: Feb 9
February 6, 2023 Istanbul : A major earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 hit southeastern Turkey early on Monday, causing widespread destruction and leading to the death of at least 11000 people, with the death toll expected to rise. The quake struck at 4:17 am local time and was felt in neighboring countries such as Syria and Lebanon. A 6.7-magnitude aftershock followed just 15 minutes later.
Dozens of buildings have been destroyed in major cities in southern Turkey and neighboring Syria, which has already been grappling with over a decade of violence. Rescuers have been digging through the rubble of levelled buildings in Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep in Turkey, while pro-government media reported partial collapses in Hama, central Syria. Syria's National Earthquake Centre has described the quake as "historically, the biggest earthquake recorded in the history of the centre".
Turkey is located in one of the world's most active earthquake zones, with a previous 7.4-magnitude earthquake in Duzce in 1999 killing over 17,000 people. There have been long-standing warnings of a potential devastating earthquake in Istanbul, where widespread building without proper safety precautions has taken place. In recent years, earthquakes have also struck Elazig in 2020, resulting in over 40 deaths, and the Aegean Sea in the same year, killing 114 people and injuring over 1,000.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed his condolences and hopes that the country will get through the disaster with the least damage possible.