Tens of thousands killed by Kahramanmaras earthquake

Brooke Saaty, Co-editor-in-Chief

Monday, February 6, 2023, the Kahramanmaras earthquake hit Türkiye and Syria. Currently, over 15,000 people have been reported to be dead. There are over 12,391 people dead in Türkiye and 62,914 people injured. In Syria, over 3,042 people are dead. Türkiye has declared a three-month state of emergency in the ten provinces that were hit the hardest by the earthquake.

“We are face to face with one of the biggest disasters ever for our region,” said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Türkiye February 7, according to the New York Times.

The 7.9 magnitude earthquake centered in Southern Türkiye near the northern border of Syria near the Turkish city of Gaziantep. The original quake was followed by several aftershocks including one aftershock with a magnitude of 7.5. The aftershock with the lowest reported magnitude was a magnitude of 5. The earthquake was a strike-slip quake,  which means that two tectonic plates slipped past each other. In this case, one plate slipped east and the other in the western direction.

The earthquake occurred in the East Anatolian fault zone which is known to be seismically active and has produced damaging earthquakes in the past. However, this earthquake was particularly damaging as it is rare for such a strong earthquake to hit on land. The earthquake also hit in a highly populated area that housed many old buildings. In fact, over 6,000 buildings were destroyed due to their inability to absorb the shaking caused by the earthquake. Syria was particularly vulnerable to the earthquake due to decades of war and humanitarian crises.

In Türkiye, 25,000 search and rescue workers were deployed to deal with the crisis. Over 8,000 people have been reported to have been saved from the wreckage. Other countries have also offered to provide assistance. Yet, cold weather, damaged roads and traffic as people have attempted to leave affected areas have hindered rescue efforts and rescue teams are overwhelmed.

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation caused by the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria. I have directed my team to continue to closely monitor the situation in coordination with Türkiye and provide any and all needed assistance,” said President Biden February 6.