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Turkey-Syria earthquake: As it happened

Turkey-Syria earthquake: As it happened
The combined death toll from the powerful earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria on 6 February has risen above 44,000
Key Points
At least 39,672 people died in southern Turkey, authorities say, and more than 5,800 people are confirmed to be dead across Syria, Damascus and the UN have said
Rescuers are continuing to find survivors in Turkey, with two men found after being trapped for 260 hours in Antakya
The UN is appealing for hundreds of millions in aid to help five million Syrian survivors with shelter, healthcare and food

Live Updates

1 year ago
A clock tower in the southern Turkish city of Adiyaman froze at exactly at 04:17, the exact time when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck

Hello everyone,

I'm Faisal Edroos and this was Middle East Eye's live blog on the twin earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria on 6 February.

More than 43,000 people are now confirmed to have died after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked southeast Turkey and northwest Syria at 04:17 local time. A powerful aftershock registering 7.5 on the richter scale followed at 13:24, causing further carnage.

The earthquakes affected an exceptionally large area, causing destruction across a region that is around 12 times the size of Belgium.

The international community immediately responded to the disaster, sending hundreds of millions of dollars in supplies and specialist rescue teams to southern Turkey.

But in rebel-held Syria, assistance didn't arrive until nearly a week later, leaving shell-shocked victims to fend for themselves.

We've been covering the story from some of the the worst affected areas in both countries, as well as from our offices in Ankara, Istanbul, London and Washington DC.

Here are some articles that we think tell the story of what happened over these last 12 days:

  1. Survivors recount the night the earth shook and the help came too late
  2. Hospitals in northwest Syria overwhelmed with few doctors left on the front line
  3. Flooding wipes out crucial farmland after Idlib dam bursts its banks
  4. Europe, with billions for war, shows its true heartless face
  5. Are sanctions obstructing the delivery of aid to Syria?
  6. Grief gives way to anger in southern Turkey as anti-Syrian sentiment boils
  7. Time stands still in Adiyaman but anger grows over slow response
  8. World Bank estimated making homes safe would cost $465bn
  9. In a remote Turkish village survivors despair as aid eludes many
  10. 'Very simple things': Earthquake engineers on what went wrong in Turkey

We're now closing our live blog, but you can read the rest of our coverage on the quake here.

If you would like to support the rescue effort, lots of charities are desperately seeking extra funds to provide medical and humanitarian assistance in both countries. You can read more about them and donate here.

Thanks for joining us.

1 year ago

The death toll in Turkey has risen to 39,672 people, according to the country's interior minister.

1 year ago

The World Health Organisation has issued an appeal for $ 84.5m to respond to health needs after the earthquake in both Turkey and Syria.

"The flash appeal outlines the health situation in the two countries following this humanitarian disaster, the main threats to health, the WHO response since the earthquakes hit and priorities for addressing the health impacts in both countries," the UN agency said in a statement.

1 year ago

Rescue teams pulled three people alive from under collapsed buildings in Turkey on Friday, 11 days after an earthquake that has killed more than 43,000, left millions homeless and sparked a huge relief effort.

While many international rescue teams have left the vast quake zone, survivors were still emerging from under a multitude of flattened homes, defying all the odds.

Turkey-Syria earthquake: How do some people survive for so long under the rubble?
Read More »

One man was rescued in the southern province of Hatay, 278 hours after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck in the dead of night on 6 February, Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Earlier, a 14-year-old boy and a 34-year-old man were saved in Turkey's historic city of Antakya, known in ancient times as Antioch. As the 34-year-old Mustafa Avci was carried away, he was put on a video call with his parents who showed him his newborn baby.

"I had completely lost all hope. This is a true miracle. They gave me my son back. I saw the wreckage and I thought nobody could be saved alive from there," Avci's father told Reuters.

1 year ago

Almost two weeks after two powerful earthquakes and hundreds of powerful aftershocks struck southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria, survivors are still being pulled from the rubble.

Turkey’s health minister, Fahrettin Koca, praised the efforts of rescue workers on Friday for finding a 14-year-old boy and two men from the rubble nearly 11 days after the huge earthquake. 

Covered in a blanket and with a neck brace, the teenager, called Osman, was initially given first aid by rescue workers and then rushed to a waiting ambulance. 

An hour after Osman was found, two other men were found in Antakya.

Images shared by Koca show a 33-year-old old man, Mustafa Avci, rescued from the rubble 261 hours after the earthquake struck and being administered first aid in a field hospital. 

The DHA news agency named the other survivor as Mehmet Ali Sakiroglu, 26. He was retrieved from the same building as Avci.

Read more: 'May God make Turkey happy': Boy among three survivors found in last 24 hours

Rescuers found 14-year-old Osman after hearing sounds in the rubble (Twitter)
Rescuers found 14-year-old Osman after hearing sounds in the rubble (Twitter)

1 year ago

The Turkish government has launched a worldwide hunt for tents and shelters for earthquake survivors, after thousands continued to take refuge in shopping malls, stadiums and mosques after their homes were destroyed in last week's disaster.

"We are trying to procure everything we can all around the world and ask foreign governments to prioritise tent aid," a Turkish official with knowledge of the effort told Middle East Eye on Friday. 

The Turkish government and dozens of aid groups have launched a massive relief effort for the survivors, with Ankara dispatching more than 5,400 shipping containers as shelters and tens of thousands of tents.

But across the huge earthquake zone in Turkey and Syria, millions have been rendered homeless, with many continuing to sleep in cars or mosques that have become makeshift shelters.

The official said that Ankara was also trying to rent large cargo planes to bring in some of the tents due to their large size and the need for big shipments.

Another official told MEE that the country was in dire need of winter tents as temperatures continued to plunge below -5c in some of the quake-hit areas.

The freezing conditions have added to the risk of hypothermia for many survivors, especially those who could still be alive under the rubble.

Read more: Turkey launches worldwide hunt for tents to house quake survivors

A child runs amid tents at the Sumerevler Athletics Track, turned into a tent city for quake survivors on 16 February 2023 (Anadolu Agency)
A child runs amid tents at the Sumerevler Athletics Track, turned into a tent city for quake survivors on 16 February 2023 (Anadolu Agency)

1 year ago

When Zeinab first heard about the devastating earthquake that struck her homeland, she was on her way to work. 

Unsure of how bad the situation was, Zeinab put her headphones on and listened to music as she walked to the bakery where she works on Green Lanes in north London - the home of Britain’s Kurdish and Turkish-speaking community.

But when videos and pictures began to flood social media of people looking for their relatives, Zeinab began to realise how bad the situation was.

“I have family who were close to the earthquake's epicentre, so the pain felt very real,” said Zeinab as she served coffee and baklava native to her hometown of Gaziantep. 

“The moment I realised how bad it was, the first thing I did was call my mum to ask how our relatives are doing in Antep.” 

Read more: 

Turkey-Syria earthquake: Turks and Kurds in London hurry to send aid to quake victims

1 year ago

The deadly double earthquake to hit Turkey and Syria last week on Monday has left at least 43,858 dead.

The breakdown: 

  • At least 38,044 people died in Turkey according to the country's disaster management agency, Afad
  • In Syria’s government-controlled areas, at least 1,414 people were killed
  • According to the Syrian Civil Defense, at least 2,274 people were killed in the opposition held northwest of Syria. According to the UN the number of dead in the opposition held areas could be as high as 4,400
1 year ago

More building contractors and others responsible for poorly constructed buildings that collapsed following last weeks devastating earthquakes in Turkey have been arrested, according to the semi-state run Anadolu Agency news agency.

In Kahramanmaras province, one of the worst affected regions, three people were detained within the scope of an investigation regarding buildings that caved in due to the February 6 twin quakes, which have killed over 38,000 people in Turkey, making it one of the deadliest earthquakes in living memory. 

Another five contractors were detained in Istanbul on the grounds of "killing by negligence".

In the south of Turkey the number of people detained rose to 17.

1 year ago

Arab countries are accelerating efforts to reestablish ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the aftermath of two deadly earthquakes, potentially deepening the chasm between regional capitals that want to bring Damascus in from the cold and western powers opposed to normalisation. 

Since the twin quakes struck in southern Turkey and northern Syria last week, killing at least 41,000, Assad has fielded condolence calls from fellow Arab rulers, received aid from rich Gulf states, and even won a pledge from Tunisia to strengthen ties with his government. 

The most prominent diplomatic visit in the last two weeks, however, came from Jordan, one of Washington's most stalwart allies in the region. Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi met with Assad in Damascus on Wednesday, marking the first such trip since the Syrian war erupted a decade ago.

“This is an inflection point in a four-year trend for actors who want to move forward with normlisation,” Natasha Hall, a senior fellow at the US-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies, told Middle East Eye.

Read more: 

Syria earthquake: 'Inflection point' for normalisation with Bashar al-Assad

1 year ago

Hello MEE readers. The watchtower in the Turkish city of Adiyaman remains stuck at 04:17, the moment the first tremor struck last week. And for many of the victims of the earthquake, their situation is similar, as they remain stuck and angry over the time it took to receive help.

The death toll from the devastating earthquakes has increased to more than 38,000 in Turkey.

In government-controlled Syria, Arab countries have been accelerating efforts to reestablish ties with President Bashar al-Assad in the aftermath of the disaster. Read more on that here.

Meanwhile, Syrian refugees that fled to Turkey after the civil war broke out are now returning to their country after either losing their homes in the quakes or to care for wounded relatives.

The direct damage to Turkey's physical infrastructure is estimated to be $25bn, according to the financial services company JP Morgan. Another report from a Turkish group estimated the damage to the country's economy to be around $84bn.

While rescue efforts have largely switched to a focus on providing relief to the survivors, search teams continue to locate people who have miraculously survived more than 200 hours after getting stuck under the rubble.

We are taking a break in coverage for the moment, but will pick back up soon. To stay updated with the latest news on the earthquakes, follow us on TwitterInstagramFacebook and TikTok.

1 year ago

Rents have skyrocketed across western and southern areas of Turkey as survivors from last week's earthquakes began relocating to what is considered safer parts of the country.

A Turkish ruling party official told MEE that at least 1.5 million citizens had left the earthquake-ravaged provinces of Hatay, Adiyaman, and Malatya after the 6 February twin quakes.

Huseyin Orhan, a survivor from Gaziantep whose home was severely damaged, said he was trying to find a new home in the capital Ankara but rents were too high.

"The opportunists doubled the rental prices," he said. "We visited five different buildings and they all made astronomical increases."

Several estate agents have since confirmed that prices have spiked in relation to what they were just a few weeks ago, with Hakan Akcam, the chairman of an estate agent's chamber in Ankara, saying prices shot up by between 25-57 percent.

Read more here.

Rents spike as survivors relocate west in search of safety

Buildings near the Gaziosmanpasa district in Istanbul, Turkey, 5 August 2019.
1 year ago

The death toll in Turkey has now risen to at least 38,044, according to the country's disaster management agency, Afad.

In Syria, the White Helmets have so far reported 2,274 deaths in the rebel-held northwest along with more than 12,000 injuries, while the death toll in the government-held areas is 1,414, according to the Bashar al-Assad government.