Massive earthquake kills nearly 4,000 people in Turkey and Syria
by Rehan Qamar
A massive earthquake destroyed buildings as people were sleeping in parts of Turkey and Syria on Monday. As of this report, the earthquake has killed more than 3,400 people with thousands of others wounded. Officials warned the death toll would likely rise, with many reported trapped under destroyed buildings after the magnitude 7.8 quake struck at 4:17 am local time (1:17 GMT) just north of Turkey’s Gaziantep, near the Syrian border. Tremors were felt in Cyprus, Lebanon, and Egypt.
According to the Associated Press, at least 2,316 people died in 10 of Turkey’s provinces and over 13,000 others were injured following the quake. Syrian state media said at least 656 people were killed and over 1,419 others injured in government-held areas. Gaziantep and its surrounding areas host hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who have been displaced by nearly 12 years of war.
There were reports of tremors being particularly destructive in opposition-held areas of northwestern Syria, where millions of people displaced by the war live in densely populated towns.
Muheeb Qaddour, a doctor in Atmeh, told the AP that officials had initially confirmed 11 deaths in the opposition-held Syrian town, but many were trapped beneath the rubble. “We fear that the deaths are in the hundreds,” Qaddour added.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an tweeted that the effects were “felt in many parts of our country” and search and rescue teams had been immediately dispatched to areas affected by the earthquake.
In response to the assistance needed, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that the U.S. was “profoundly concerned” by reports of the destructive quake and stood “ready to provide any and all” assistance needed.
Biden said in a statement Monday that senior American officials had reached out to their Turkish counterparts coordinate U.S. assistance, and that American-supported humanitarian partners were doing the same in Syria. “Today, our hearts and our deepest condolences are with all those who have lost precious loved ones, those who are injured, and those who saw their homes and businesses destroyed,” Biden added.