The city of Aleppo, already struggling to recover from the devastating effects of the Syrian civil war, has been hit by a powerful earthquake that has claimed over 1,400 lives. The quake caused widespread destruction, with many buildings collapsing and trapping people beneath the rubble.
In the region, the conditions were already challenging with frigid temperatures, dilapidated structures, and a cholera outbreak affecting the population. The area is divided between the government, Kurdish-led forces, and various insurgent factions, all of whom are still engaged in ongoing conflict.
Rebuilding efforts had been underway to restore the former commercial center of Syria, but the infrastructure remains in ruins, buildings are in shambles, and power shortages are frequent. The death toll from the earthquake, reported by both the Syrian government and the opposition-run White Helmets rescue group, has surpassed 1,400.
The earthquake hit at 4:17 am local time, registering a 7.8 magnitude with a depth of 11 miles. A second, nearly as powerful quake occurred 12 hours later, located 80 miles north of the first epicenter. The Syrian Civil Defence is calling for the global community to take action and help the affected area.
Residents of the region have expressed the dire circumstances, with one resident of Jandairis revealing that 12 members of his family perished in the quake and others still trapped beneath the debris. Emergency services are available in government-run areas, but rescue efforts are being hindered by the icy temperatures and heavy rainfall.
The International Rescue Committee, which has a significant presence in opposition-held areas of Syria, had already been responding to the area’s first cholera outbreak in over a decade and preparing for an upcoming snowstorm when the earthquake struck. The organization’s Middle East advocacy director described the situation as a “crisis within a crisis within a crisis,” and added that large parts of the region are out of reach due to damage to communication networks.
North-western Syria has become one of the hardest places to access, making it difficult for aid from outside nations to reach the affected population. The only way to get resources to opposition-controlled zones is through a small crossing on the Turkish border.
Image Credit: Youssef Karwashan