The victims of the two violent earthquakes of magnitude 6.514 and 7.8 that hit southern Turkey and northern Syria yesterday amount to 7.6. In particular, according to reports from the Disaster and Emergencies Management Authority (AFAD), cited by the television station "Trt haber", 4.544 people lost their lives in Turkish territories and another 26.721 were injured. The number of destroyed buildings instead amounts to 5.775. “Our search and rescue activities continue. Our state is active in the region with all its possibilities. A very large area was affected by this earthquake,” said Orhan Tatar, director of earthquakes and risk reduction of AFAD, warning of continuing aftershocks that could cause “the destruction of damaged buildings”. In parallel, in Syria the death toll recorded so far amounts to 1.970, according to reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (Sohr), a non-governmental organization based in London but with a vast network of sources on the ground. Specifically, 1.056 victims were recorded in the areas under the control of the Syrian government while another 914 in the southern areas of the "Government of Salvation" and the "Syrian interim government", largely controlled by rebel militias supported by the Turkish Armed Forces . The number of wounded, however, amounts to at least 2.000.
Turkey and Syria were hit yesterday by two very violent earthquakes in what the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, defined as the most serious earthquake since the one that struck the Turkish province of Erzincan in 1939. The first quake of magnitude 7.8 it was recorded at 4:17 local time (2:17 in Italy) and had the epicenter of the town of Pazarcik in the Turkish province of Kahramanmaras. A second earthquake of magnitude 7.6 was recorded around 13:24 pm local time (11:24 am in Italy) in the district of Elbistan, also in the Turkish province of Kahramanmaras. According to reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 58 villages and towns controlled by the Damascus government led by President Bashar al Assad - including Latakia, Hama and Aleppo - were affected by the earthquake. The provinces of Afrin and Idlib controlled mainly by opposition groups have also been devastated. As highlighted by Sohr, the high number of victims in the Syrian territories is also a consequence of the inability of the medical teams to save the wounded, given the lack of the necessary emergency equipment and medicines and the delay in the relief efforts. The Observatory then asked international actors to intervene immediately to save the wounded and "cope with the humanitarian disaster", while it appealed to Turkey, inviting the authorities to welcome Syrian wounded and to send medical teams for rescue operations.
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, declared a three-month state of emergency in the ten devastated provinces. “Based on the authority vested in us by Article 119 of the Constitution, we have decided to declare a state of emergency. We will quickly complete the presidential and parliamentary processes related to the decision on the state of emergency, which will affect the ten provinces where the earthquakes occurred and will last for three months,” the Turkish president said in a press conference, revealing that so far there are 3.549 confirmed dead and 22.168 wounded. "We are facing one of the greatest disasters not only in the history of our Republic, but also at a regional and global level", continued Erdogan, specifying that so far 54 tents, 102 camp beds and other goods and essential equipment. "We have earmarked 100 billion Turkish lira (49,6 million euros) for our institutions," he said. “Currently, our 53.317 rescuers and support personnel are working in the vast earthquake area. The number of rescuers is increasing every hour, with teams from Turkey and abroad,” said the Turkish president.
THE DEVASTATION AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE IN VIDEOS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
In Syria, the partial toll has risen to 1.597 dead and over two thousand injured, according to reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a London-based non-governmental organization with a vast network of sources on the ground. The toll includes the victims registered both in the areas controlled by the government and those managed by armed groups supported by Turkey in the provinces of Idlib and Afrin. According to local sources cited by Sohr, there are at least 72 towns and villages devastated by the double earthquake in northwestern and western Syria with thousands of people having spent the night outside their homes in makeshift shelters in the open, despite temperatures below zero, due to the continuous aftershocks that are causing the collapse of the damaged buildings.
The Turkish president announced seven days of national mourning. “Due to the earthquakes that occurred in our country on February 6, 2023, a seven-day national mourning period was declared. Our flag will be flown at half-mast until sunset on Sunday, February 12, 2023, in all representations of our country and abroad,” Erdogan said in a statement.
In the press conference, Erdogan also underlined the primary role played by the Turkish Armed Forces, engaged with ten ships, 54 cargo planes and thousands of soldiers on the field. The head of state also denounced the spread of false news regarding the situation in the areas hit by the earthquake: “We follow those who intend to pit our people against each other with false news that distorts reality. Our prosecutors are identifying those who attempt to wreak social havoc through inhumane methods and are taking the necessary action." Erdogan also called on citizens and businesses to send aid and donations to the Presidency for the management of disasters and emergencies (AFAD), specifying that "no commission will be charged for transfers in Turkish lira and AFAD foreign currency accounts held at all the main banks and holding companies in our country".
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