Strongest quake in decades kills hundreds in Türkiye, Syria

ANKARA, 6th February, 2023 (WAM) -- The death toll is rising from a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit southeast Turkey and northern Syria early on Monday. Hundreds were killed in the two countries, thousands were injured, and the toll was expected to rise further, according to news agency reports.

The death toll has reached at least 568, Associated Press (AP) reported. The number of dead rose as Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said the death toll has reached 284 in Turkey. He said at least 2,300 people were injured across 10 provinces affected by the quake and 1,700 buildings collapsed. “Unfortunately, at the same time, we are also struggling with extremely severe weather conditions. Despite these weather conditions, we are trying to reach the region as quickly as possible,” Oktay told reporters.

Syria's health officials say the death toll from Monday's earthquake in government-held areas of the country has risen to 237, with 639 reported injured.

This was one of the most powerful earthquakes to hit the Middle East in years. Bloomberg quoted Okan Tuysuz, a professor of geology at Istanbul Technical University, as saying that it was the strongest earthquake in Türkiye since 1939, when a powerful temblor struck eastern city of Erzincan and killed about 33,000 people.

Striking before dawn in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, the quake was felt as far as Egypt and Cyprus.

The disaster affected several Turkish provinces stretching hundreds of kilometers, where about 13 million people are bracing for colder winter temperatures.

“We have activated a fourth-level alert, this entails international help,” Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told a televised news conference in Ankara.