AGI – The death toll from the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria since dawn on Monday is getting worse by the hour. So far the victims are over 3,800 but this figure is destined to rise. Hundreds are in fact missing and at the moment there are over 11,000 injured, many of whom are in serious condition.
As stated by Catherine Smallwood, the World Health Organization’s emergency manager for Europe the dead could even reach 20 thousand. This is because, as he explained to AFP, “there is always the possibility that other collapses may occur. Unfortunately – he observed – the same thing always occurs with earthquakes: the initial reports on the number of people dead or injured increase significantly next week”.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared 7 days of national mourning and schools across the country will remain closed until February 13th. Two earthquakes, four aftershocks ranging from 6.4 to 7.7 shook ten different cities in what Erdogan called “the most disastrous earthquake since 1938”.
An earthquake that immediately entered the sinister ranking of the 10 deadliest earthquakes to hit Turkey from 1930 to today. The country is crossed by two faults, the Anatolian and the African, to the north and south, generated by the split of the Arabian plate which coincides with the southeast of the country.
Hatay, Gaziantep, Kilis, Urfa, Adiyaman, Osmaniye, Malatya, Kahramanmaras, Adana, Diyarbakir are the main cities that today count the dead and are faced with the bill of damages and thousands of buildings already demolished because they are about to collapse.
The rescue machine was immediately triggered, highly organized in Turkey with the AFAD civil protection, unfortunately not new to this type of intervention. AFAD itself communicated that the first shock, of magnitude 7.7, struck at 4:17 in the morning ( Rome +2), epicenter in Pazarcik, in the province of Kahramanmaras, at a depth of 7 km.
The second tremor hit Gaziantep a few minutes later, with a magnitude of 6.4, followed by a third earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5. A 7.5 quake shook Kahramanmaras province again 7 hours later, the peak of an earthquake swarm that recorded more than 150 aftershocks
Shocks felt in Iraq, Lebanon, Cyprus and Egypt and that in Syria have caused at least a thousand deaths.
Erdogan arrived on a flight from Istanbul to the headquarters of the AFAD presidency, where he took over the coordination of operations.
Earthquake in Turkey, the devastation after the first shock
The last intervention for an earthquake in a densely populated area was in Izmir in 2021. The city on the Aegean coast was hit by a 6.6 earthquake which killed 117 people.
This time, however, Turkey is faced with a catastrophe of a very different scale and the highly organized AFAD machine, which extracted more than 6,000 people today, may not be enough.
Erdogan specified that he had received aid proposals from 45 countries outside NATO and the European Union.
Germany was the first to offer help, but Greece’s eternal friends-enemies did not fail to appeal, as did the phone call from French President Emmanuel Macron, whose relations with Erdogan are often problematic, and from Israeli President Isaac Herzog, with whom Erdogan instead mended during 2022.
Above all, however, there were phone calls from Ukrainian president Volodimir Zelensky and Russian leader Vladimir Putin. It is inevitable that a certain coordination will be triggered between Russia and Turkey.
The earthquake has in fact generated a catastrophe that affects the border between Syria and Turkey, the same area in which Erdogan and Putin have reached various agreements in recent years, a territory in which two enclaves under the control of Ankara lie.
The Turkish Red Cross also runs refugee camps and hospitals in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib. Moscow has been essential for years to keep the Damascus regime standing and has already sent relief and aid teams to Syria and the Russian intervention will probably be coordinated with the Turkish one.
Meanwhile, it has been learned that about twenty alleged fighters of the Islamic State (Isis) escaped from Rajo military prison, located near the Turkish border in northwestern Syria, during a mutiny following the earthquake.
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