Türkiye shaken by earthquakes; rescue efforts battle harsh weather

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By Duygu Çağla Bayram

Ankara (Türkiye), February 7: Türkiye’s Monday earthquakes, affecting 13.5 million of the country’s 85 million population, has emerged as the largest natural disaster since 1939. The 10 of Türkiye’s 81 provinces (Kahramanmaraş, Hatay, Gaziantep, Osmaniye, Malatya, Adıyaman, Adana, Diyarbakır, Kilis ve Şanlıurfa), have been devastated by a series of aftershocks.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced late on Monday seven days of national mourning. Türkiye sits on the Anatolian Plate, which borders two major faults. The North Anatolian fault that lies all the way from west to east of the country and the East Anatolian fault that rests in the country’s south-eastern region.

The catastrophic earthquakes on Monday in south of Türkiye, with the epicentre at Kahramanmaras province, which was felt in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the Greek Cypriot Administration, Israel, was as powerful as the strongest one on record in east of Türkiye, as one that was Erzincan centred with 7,8 magnitude in December 1939, and that had killed over 30,000 people.

On Monday two strong earthquakes with 7.7 and 7.6 magnitudes followed by 285 aftershocks, including three larger than 6 magnitude, jolted southern Türkiye have so far knocked down at least 5,775 confirmed buildings, and 11,302 reported buildings. Death toll has risen to 3,549, while 22,168 have been wounded. So far 7,840 people have been rescued from the rubble. The disaster hit country has pressed into services of 24,443-people for rescue efforts with many trained dogs, and numerous aircrafts and ships are in the region now carrying out relief works.

The numbers of the affected people have just been announced by General Director of Risk Reduction, Prof. Dr. Orhan Tatar, at The Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD). “Unfortunately, more aftershocks are still awaited, and numbers may keep rising. The cold, rainy and snowy weather in Türkiye also raises concerns for the relief works,” said a senior official.

A state of emergency was declared in 10 provinces for three months. On Monday, the first earthquake hit the country while the people were sleeping in regions which largely have the people affected by the Syrian civil war. India along with other countries have rushed their Disaster teams to carry out the relief and the rescue efforts along with necessary materials such as medicines and clothes. Syria is equally devastated with the earthquakes, leaving several people dead, while thousands others have been injured.

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