Two devastating earthquakes hit Turkey and Syria in quick succession early Monday, leaving thousands dead and even more injured.
The first earthquake, which was recorded at magnitude 7.8, hit at 4:17 a.m. local time in the city of Gaziantep in south Turkey as families slept. It was one of the most powerful earthquakes in the region in at least a century. Hours later, a 7.5-magnitude quake hit the Kahramanmaras province as rescuers worked to search for survivors.
“We used our phone’s flashlight so we could get dressed, and hurried out of the house. Anyone able to save themselves has now fled somewhere. I have relatives in Kahramanmaraş, their houses were destroyed,” Sinan Şahan, a tradesperson in Gaziantep, told The Guardian.
Photos show entire blocks demolished. In some areas, only one building was left standing while the rest were turned to rubble. In others, photos showed neighborhoods where only one building was destroyed, surrounded by others that had survived the temblors.
“There are hundreds of collapsed buildings here, this is not an exaggeration, literally hundreds,” Hasan Durkal, an academic living in Hatay province in Turkey’s far southwest, told the Wall Street Journal. “I am afraid we lost them,” he said of family members who were trapped. “We can’t do much.”
Aftershocks were felt as far as Lebanon, Greece, and Cyprus. Hundreds of people have died in northern Syria, according to the government’s health ministry. Millions of refugees are still displaced in the region from the Syrian Civil War.
Turkey sits on the Anatolian Plate, which borders two major fault lines. Governments around the world have promised aid where those still reeling from the devastation have had to begin the difficult work of rescuing those trapped under the rubble.
“There was screaming everywhere,” one 30-year-old man in Diyarbakir told Reuters. “I started pulling rocks away with my hands. We pulled out the injured with friends, but the screaming didn’t stop. Then the [rescue] teams came.”
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