A 7.8-magnitude earthquake, one of the strongest in Turkey in over a century, hit the country and neighbouring Syria early Monday morning. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the quake struck 23 kilometres east of Nurdagi in Gaziantep province, at a depth of 24.1 kilometres.
The impact of the quake was felt in several countries across the region, including Syria and Lebanon. In Turkey, at least 284 people were killed and over 2,300 injured, while in Syria, at least 237 people died and over 630 were injured, according to official reports. Rescue workers are currently conducting search-and-rescue operations and trying to save those trapped under the rubble.
The earthquake is believed to be the strongest to hit Turkey since 1939 and is considered rare, with fewer than five of this magnitude occurring each year on average worldwide. Several aftershocks with magnitude over 5.0 were also felt in southern and central Turkey.
The disaster agency in Turkey, AFAD, has requested international help through the European Union’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC). Nearly 1,000 search and rescue volunteers have been deployed from Istanbul, along with dogs, trucks, and aid. The interior minister of Turkey, Suleyman Soylu, has confirmed that search and rescue teams have been dispatched to the south of the country.
Turkey is no stranger to earthquakes, last November a magnitude 5.9 earthquake hit Golkaya in the western Dulcze province, 160 kilometres east of Istanbul. Earthquakes are common in Turkey. An earthquake in Elazig in January 2020 killed over 40 people. In the same year, an earthquake in the Aegean Sea killed over 100 people and injured over 1,000 more, a tragedy that affected both Turkey and its neighbouring country, Greece. More than 17,000 people were killed in Izmit in 1999 after a 7.6 magnitude earthquake.