Worst Earthquake in 24 Years Hits Turkey & Syria, Over 3000 Dead, Social Media Flooded with Scenes of Destruction - The Jewish Voice
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Worst Earthquake in 24 Years Hits Turkey & Syria, Over 3000 Dead, Social Media Flooded with Scenes of Destruction

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Worst Earthquake in 24 Years Hits Turkey & Syria, Over 1500 Dead


Edited by: TJVNews.com

 A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked wide swaths of Turkey and Syria early Monday, toppling hundreds of buildings and killing more than 3000 people, the AP reported. Hundreds were still believed to be trapped under rubble, and the toll was expected to rise as rescue workers searched mounds of wreckage in cities and towns across the area.

On both sides of the border, residents jolted out of sleep by the pre-dawn quake rushed outside on a cold, rainy and snowy night. The AP also reported that buildings were reduced to piles of pancaked floors, and major aftershocks continued to rattle the region.

Rescue workers and residents in multiple cities searched for survivors, working through tangles of metal and concrete, according to the AP report. A hospital in Turkey collapsed, and patients, including newborns, were evacuated from facilities in Syria.

 In the Turkish city of Adana, one resident said three buildings near his home were toppled. “I don’t have the strength anymore,” one survivor could be heard calling out from beneath the rubble as rescue workers tried to reach him, said the resident, journalism student Muhammet Fatih Yavus, as was reported by the AP.


“Because the debris removal efforts are continuing in many buildings in the earthquake zone, we do not know how high the number of dead and injured will rise,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, the AP reported. “Hopefully, we will leave these disastrous days behind us in unity and solidarity as a country and a nation.”


The quake, which was centered north of the Turkish provincial capital of Gaziantep, was felt as far away as Cairo and northern Israel. The AP reported that it sent residents of Damascus rushing into the street, and jolted awake people in their beds in Beirut.


It struck a region that has been shaped on both sides of the border by more than a decade of civil war in Syria. The AP reported that on the Syrian side, the swath affected is divided between government-held territory and the country’s last opposition-held enclave, which is surrounded by Russian-backed government forces. Turkey, meanwhile, is home to millions of refugees from that conflict.

The opposition-held regions in Syria are packed with some 4 million people displaced from other parts of the country by the fighting, according to the AP report. Many of them live in buildings that are already wrecked from past bombardments. Hundreds of families remained trapped in rubble, the opposition emergency organization, called the White Helmets, said in a statement.


Strained health facilities and hospitals were quickly filled with wounded, rescue workers said. Others had to be emptied, including a maternity hospital, according to the SAMS medical organization.


The AP reported that the region sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes. Some 18,000 were killed in similarly powerful earthquakes that hit northwest Turkey in 1999.

 The U.S. Geological Survey measured Monday’s quake at 7.8. Hours later, a 7.5 magnitude one struck more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) away. The AP said that an official from Turkey’s disaster management agency said it was a new earthquake, not an aftershock, though its effects were not immediately clear. Hundreds of aftershocks were expected after the two temblors, Orhan Tatar told reporters.

 Thousands of buildings were reported collapsed in a wide area extending from Syria’s cities of Aleppo and Hama to Turkey’s Diyarbakir, more than 330 kilometers (200 miles) to the northeast, the AP reported. A hospital collapsed in the Mediterranean coastal city of Iskenderun, but casualties were not immediately known, his vice president, Fuat Oktay, said.

Televisions stations in Turkey aired screens split into four or five, showing live coverage from rescue efforts in the worst-hit provinces. The AP said that in the city of Kahramanmaras, rescuers pulled two children alive from the rubble, and one could be seen lying on a stretcher on the snowy ground.


Offers of help — from search-and-rescue teams to medical supplies and money — poured in from dozens of countries, the AP reported as well as the European Union and NATO.

The damage evident from photos of the affected areas is typically associated with a significant loss of life — while bitterly cold temperatures and the difficulty of working in areas beset by civil war will only complicate rescue efforts, said Dr. Steven Godby, an expert in natural hazards at Nottingham Trent University, according to the AP.

In Turkey, people trying to leave the quake-stricken regions caused traffic jams, hampering efforts of emergency teams trying to reach the affected areas. Authorities urged residents not to take to the roads. The AP reported that mosques around the region were opened to provide shelter for people unable to return to damaged homes amid temperatures that hovered around freezing.

The quake heavily damaged Gaziantep’s most famed landmark, its historic castle perched atop a hill in the center of the city. The AP said that parts of the fortresses’ walls and watch towers were leveled and other parts heavily damaged, images from the city showed.

In Diyarbakir, hundreds of rescue workers and civilians formed lines across a mountain of wreckage, passing down broken concrete pieces, household belongings and other debris as they searched for trapped survivors while excavators dug through the rubble below, the AP reported.

In northwest Syria, the quake added new woes to the opposition-held enclave centered on the province of Idlib, which has been under siege for years, with frequent Russian and government airstrikes. The territory depends on a flow of aid from nearby Turkey for everything from food to medical supplies.

As was reported by the AP, the opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense described the situation there as “disastrous.”

Osama Abdelhamid, who was being treated for injuries at a hospital in Idlib, said most of his neighbors died. The AP reported that he said their shared four-story building collapsed just as he, his wife and three children ran toward the exit. A wooden door fell on them and acted as a shield.


“I was reborn, thank God,” he said.

In the small Syrian rebel-held town of Azmarin in the mountains by the Turkish border, the bodies of several dead children, wrapped in blankets, were brought to a hospital, AP reported.

The Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums in Syira said the earthquake has caused some damage to the Crusader-built Marqab, or Watchtower Castle, on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean. Part of a tower and parts of some walls collapsed.

The USGS said the quake was centered about 33 kilometers (20 miles) from Gaziantep, according to the AP report. It was 18 kilometers (11 miles) deep.

 More than 1,000 people were killed in 10 Turkish provinces, with some 7,000 injured, according to the country’s disaster management agency. The AP reported that the death toll in government-held areas of Syria climbed over 370 people, with some 1,000 injured. In rebel-held areas, more than 200 people were killed, according to the White Helmets, though the SAMS medical organization put the toll at more than 135; both said hundreds were hurt, as was reported by the AP.


Huseyin Yayman, a legislator from Turkey’s Hatay province, said several of his family members were stuck under the rubble of their collapsed homes.

“There are so many other people who are also trapped,” he told HaberTurk television by telephone. “There are so many buildings that have been damaged. People are on the streets. It’s raining, it’s winter.”

As the death toll rises in what is being called the worst earthquake to hit the region in the past 24 years, an Israeli citizen, Oded Tadmor relates his own experience from a hotel room not far from the epicenter, as was reported by Israel National News.

“I’m fine, but I might easily not have been,” Tadmor told Radio 103FM, according to the INN report. “It was just a little after four in the morning when I woke up and the entire room was shaking. Pieces of the walls were literally crumbling and falling to the floor. Everything glass was shattered. It was like a storm outside, with high winds, and I could hear screaming from outside. The emergency lighting wasn’t functioning. I ran out to the hallway and everything was in ruins there too. I ran back to my room, grabbed my wallet and passport, and a coat too as it was freezing cold. My business partner was in the next room and I realized that he couldn’t get out. The shifting of the walls made it impossible to open the door.”

 Tadmor added that, “There was dust and debris everywhere, along with shattered glass. All the windows had broken so the gales were coming in from outside.” In an effort to save his business partner, “I went back up to the sixth floor and tried to break down the door. They got him out after three hours, and he was calm throughout, even though the ground was still shaking. The entire hotel shifted, in fact.

“Now, a few hours afterward, now that it’s light, you can see how many buildings have collapsed. It’s just a big pile of rubble in many places. Some of the roads shifted too, they look like waves. There are rescue teams all over the place. Five minutes ago, they managed to extract a women from the rubble, from a building that had entirely collapsed.”

INN also reported that Tadmor added that despite all that has happened, he has no plans to return home for the time being. “I still have to complete my business here and we’ll meet up somewhere else instead. I won’t be returning to the hotel.”

He also noted that the huge earthquake that rocked Istanbul 24 years ago did not have such a devastating impact, as “they’re more professional there, more organized,” INN reported.

According to a report on early Monday, World Israel News said that Israel is preparing aid for Turkey following the massive earthquake, following requests for help from Ankara, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

“At the request of the Turkish government, I have instructed all authorities to make immediate preparations to provide medical, and search-and-rescue assistance,” he announced, according to the WIN report. “The foreign and defense ministers have already been in contact with their counterparts and we will – in the coming hours – agree on the dispatching of a delegation as soon as possible.”

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that his special teams, which are attached to the Home Front Command, are being mobilized to help, WIN reported

“The security forces are ready to offer any assistance that may be required,” he said. “The security system has gained a lot of experience over the years in dealing with disaster areas and the mission of saving lives.”

WIN also reported that in conversation with his counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen offered to dispatch a significant number of search and rescue personnel. Çavusoglu expressed his appreciation for Israel’s willingness to stand by Turkey’s side in its hour of need.

Medical intervention is also being offered by private Israeli organizations.

WIN reported that United Hatzalah of Israel, Israel’s national volunteer EMS organization, is already preparing to send a relief mission.

“During the early hours of the morning, I notified the Foreign Minister, the Defense Minister, the Health Minister, and the head of the National Security Council (NSC) that we are standing at the ready to send a relief mission consisting of doctors, paramedics, EMTs, members of the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit, and members of the Search and Rescue Units, with medical supplies and humanitarian aid in order to provide assistance to the thousands of people in need in Turkey,”  said United Hatzalah CEO Eli Pollack, as was reported by WIN.


Israel’s version of the Red Cross, Magen David Adom, also announced that it had approached the Turkish Red Crescent and the International Federation of the Red Crescent in Europe, offering humanitarian and medical aid.


“In my name and in the name of the people of Israel, I express my deep sorrow for the terrible tragedy that befell Turkey and the region following the earthquake last night,” President Isaac Herzog stated, WIN reported.


“My condolences to the president and the people of Turkey for the enormous destruction and loss of life. The State of Israel through its authorized bodies is always ready to help in any possible way. Our hearts go out to the grieving families and the Turkish nation at this difficult moment,” he added.


On behalf of the Israeli people, I am deeply saddened by the enormous disaster that has befallen Türkiye following last night’s earthquake. My condolences to President Erdoğan and the Turkish people for the loss of life and destruction of livelihoods.

— יצחק הרצוג Isaac Herzog (@Isaac_Herzog) February 6, 2023


The earthquake, which struck at 3:17 a.m. in the Kahramanmaras province near the Syrian border, measured 7.8 on the Richter scale and was felt as far away as Romania, WIN reported. There were also several strong aftershocks. The Turkish death count has already reached over 1,500 with thousands more injured. An unknown number of people are still buried under the rubble, as was reported by WIN. (Sources: AP.com, IsraelNationalNews.com & WorldIsraelNews.com)

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