Turkey has been hit by a second massive earthquake, hours after an earlier catastrophic quake devastated the region, killing more than 1,500 people and injuring thousands more, while toppling countless buildings.
The 7.8-magnitude night-time tremor, followed hours later by a slightly smaller one, wiped out entire sections of major Turkish cities in a region filled with millions of people who have fled the civil war in Syria and other conflicts.
The later 7.5 magnitude quake struck at 1.24pm (1024 GMT) two-and-a-half miles southeast of the town of Ekinozu and around 60 miles north of the first quake that has wrought devastation across Turkey and Syria.
Hundreds are still believed to be trapped under rubble on both sides of the border as a result of the first, and the toll is expected to rise as rescue workers continue to search through mounds of wreckage in cities and towns across the region.
Orhan Tatar, an official from the Turkish disaster agency, told reporters that the two quakes were independent of each other. He said hundreds of aftershocks were expected after both. Tremors were felt as far away as Greenland.
Turkey has been hit by a second huge earthquake , hours after an earlier catastrophic quake devastated the region, killing more than 1,500 people and injuring thousands more, while toppling thousands of buildings. Pictured: The Turkish city of Hatay is seen after Monday morning’s quake levelled buildings across the region
Rescuers carry out a girl from a collapsed building following an earthquake in Diyarbakir, Turkey on February 6. The first earthquake struck in the early hours on Monday morning as people slept in their beds. The second hit 60 miles north less than 12 hours later
Monday morning’s earlier 7.8 magnitude quake jolted residents awake. They fled from their homes in terror out into the cold, rainy and snowy night across southeast Turkey and northern Syria, taking shelter in cars as thousands of buildings collapsed.
Tremors from the first quake – which lasted about a minute and could be Turkey’s largest ever – were felt as far away as Greenland, the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland said. People reported feeling tremors in Egypt, Lebanon and also Cyprus, while a tsunami warning was briefly issued by authorities in Italy.
Concerns grew for people trapped under the rubble as thousands of rescue workers jumped into action, searching through tangles of metal and giant piles of concrete for survivors who could be heard calling out from underneath the wreckage.
Terrifying videos and pictures from across the region showed the destruction caused by the quake. One clip from the border town of Azaz, Syria, showed a rescuer desperately running through a field of debris with an injured child in his arms, while another showed the total collapse of a building in Sanliurfa, Turkey.
Monday’s first quake was centred north of Gaziantep, Turkey, which is about 60 miles from the Syrian border and has a population of bout 2 million. The region is home to large numbers of Syrian refugees.
It struck at 04:17 am local time (0117 GMT) at a depth of about 11 miles, the US Geological Survey said. A strong 6.7 aftershock rumbled about 10 minutes later, causing more havoc. Turkey’s own agency said 40 aftershocks were felt.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management agency said the earthquake killed scores of people across seven Turkish provinces.
At around 10:15 GMT, Turkey’s president Recep Erdogan announced the death toll in his country had soared to 912, while another 5,000 were injured, revising earlier figures. Erdogan described it as the country’s largest disaster since 1939 (when 33,000 people were killed in the Erzincan earthquake)
He added that 2,818 buildings had collapsed as a result of Monday’s quake.
‘Everyone is putting their heart and soul into efforts, although the winter season, cold weather and the earthquake happening during the night make things more difficult,’ he told reporters in a news conference at Turkey’s disaster coordination centre in Ankara. ‘We do not know how high the casualty numbers will go as efforts to lift the debris continue in several buildings in the earthquake zone,’ he said.
At least 1,385 people have been killed overnight in a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Turkey and Syria that levelled buildings while many were still asleep. Footage shared online (pictured) showed the total collapse of a building in Sanlıurfa, Turkey
Pictured: A rescuer carried an injured child away from the rubble of a collapsed building in rebel-held Syria, following a deadly earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday
Pictured: A young child is rescued from underneath the rubble of a collapsed building on Monday morning. Rescue workers are pouring through the rubble to find survivors
Pictured: A 10-year-old girl is seen being rescued from a pile of rubble in Osmaniye, Turkey
Residents fled from homes in terror in cities across southeast Turkey and Syria, taking shelter in cars fearing aftershocks and collapsing buildings. Pictured: Rescue workers in Osmaniye, Turkey are seen on top of a huge mound of rubble as they search for survivors
Pictured: An aerial view of a destroyed building in Gaziantep, southern Turkey. The quake – which could be Turkey’s largest ever on record – was centred north of Gaziantep, Turkey, which is about 60 miles from the Syrian border and has a population of bout 2 million
Tremors from the deadly quake – which lasted about a minute – were felt as far away as the island of Cyprus, Egypt and Lebanon, and a tsunami warning was briefly issued by authorities in Italy along the country’s coast
Meanwhile, at least 371 people have been killed and around 1,042 injured in government-controlled regions of Syria, with the victims mostly in Aleppo, Latakia, Tartus and Hama, Syrian officials said in their own update.
The White Helmets said at least a further 221 people were killed in rebel-held areas in Syria, bringing the overall reported death toll from the massive quake to 1,504 so far.
The volunteer civil defence organisation said the quake has ‘resulted in hundreds of injuries, dozens of deaths, and people being stranded in the winter cold’.
‘The toll may increase as many families are still trapped,’ the White Helmets, which operates in rebel-controlled areas of the war-torn country, said. ‘Our teams are on the ground [are] searching for survivors and removing the dead from the rubble.’
The death toll across the whole affected region is expected to climb as rescue teams work throughout Monday to find more people trapped under collapsed buildings.
It was unclear if more casualties had been caused by the second quake.
Earlier, Erdogan said that ‘search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched’ to the areas hit by the devastating quake.
‘We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage,’ he wrote on Twitter. He urged people not to enter damaged buildings due to the risks, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said.
‘Our priority is to bring out people trapped under ruined buildings and to transfer them to hospitals,’ he said.
At least 2,800 rescue teams have been deployed across Turkey, and the Turkish armed forces have set up an air corridor to enable search and rescue teams to reach the affected zones, the country’s defence ministry said on Monday.
‘We mobilised our planes to send medical teams, search and rescue teams and their vehicles to the earthquake zone,’ Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said in a statement.
However, there was some early criticism of the rescue efforts in parts of Turkey.
According to the BBC’s Turkish Language service, Suzan Sahi of the opposition Republican People’s Party said: ‘I am in the Iskenderun region. The district is in a grave condition. More than 30 of our buildings were destroyed. The old SSK hospital was destroyed. We are in a very bad situation.
‘The main thing is this. It has been so many hours. The rescue work has not started yet. There is no AFAD [the disaster and emergency agency], no government officials. The bodies almost cannot be transported to the hospitals.
‘Materials such as tents and blankets could not be distributed. Our people are dead. No one came from 4am to 1pm.’
Pictured: A young boy is seen being pulled from the rubble by rescuers in Syria in a video, after the earthquake struck overnight
Pictured: Rescue workers carry a 10-year-old girl down from a huge mound of rubble on a stretcher in Osmaniye, Turkey on Monday morning
Pictured: An aerial view of a neighbourhood in Osmaniye, Turkey on Monday morning after the country was hit by the deadly earthquake. At least two apartment blocks can be seen completely flattened, while none have been spared from damage
Pictured: An aerial view shows a search and rescue operation being carried out in the debris of a building in Cukurova district of Adana after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit southern provinces of Turkey overnight on February 6, 2023
Pictured: A destroyed elementary school is seen in Hatay, Turkey on Monday
Pictured: Search and rescue teams search survivors through the rubble of a collapsed building in Diyarbakir, Turkey on Monday
Pictured: The interior of apartments in a destroyed block can be seen in Diyarbakir, Turkey
Pictured: Rescue teams work to clear the rubble from the site of a destroyed building
Pictured: A woman walks past the historical Gaziantep Castle, which was damaged in the quake on Monday morning
SYRIA: Civilians watch on as rescue workers search through the rubble of a destroyed building in the Syrian capital of Aleppo after the earthquake devastated the region
Pictured: Civilians watch on as rescuers look for survivors in the Syrian city of Aleppo after the earthquake rocked the war-torn city
Pictured: Rescuers scour the site of a fallen building in Aleppo, Syria on Monday
Images on Turkish television showed rescuers digging through the rubble of levelled buildings in the city of Kahramanmaras and neighbouring Gaziantep, where entire sections of cities were destroyed. Pazarcik, which lies between the two cities, was described by one resident to The Guardian as being ‘in ruins’.
Buildings also crumbled in the cities of Adiyaman, Malatya and Diyarbakir, where AFP news agency reporters saw panicked people rush out on to the street to escape.
Kahramanmaras Governor Omer Faruk Coskun said it was too early to estimate the death toll because so many buildings had been destroyed.
‘It is not possible to give the number of dead and injured at the moment because so many buildings have been destroyed,’ Coskun said. ‘The damage is serious.’
Elsewhere, a famous mosque dating back to the 13th century partially collapsed in the province of Maltaya, where a 14-story building with 28 apartments also fell.
Other mosques around the region were being opened up as a shelter for people unable to return to damaged homes amid temperatures that were close to freezing.
The quake heavily damaged Gaziantep’s most famed landmark, its historic castle perched atop a hill in the centre of the city. Parts of the fortresses’ walls and watch towers were levelled and other parts were heavily damaged, images showed.
In other cities, anguished rescuers struggled to reach survivors trapped under the debris. ‘We hear voices here – and over there, too,’ one rescuer was overheard as saying on NTV television in front of a flattened building in the city of Diyarbakir.
‘There may be 200 people under the rubble.’
Several clips were posted to social media from the scenes of rescue operations. In one clip, at least five people – including two children – were filmed as they were helped through narrow gap amongst the wreckage of a building, and through a ‘tunnel’ that remained clear enough for people to escape through to the outside.
It was unclear from the 90-second clip how many people in total had been in the home at the time of the building’s collapse, but it appeared the family had fortuitously found themselves in a pocket of space inside the destroyed structure.
Pictured: Young children are seen being pulled from the rubble after the earthquake hit
TURKEY: Rescue workers are seen working through the rubble of a collapsed building in Turkey on Monday morning
Pictured: A person is rescued by rescue workers in Kilis, Turkey on Monday morning
Pictured: Rescue workers carry a person away from a collapsed building on a stretcher
Pictured: A rescue workers searches through the rubble from a collapsed building in Turkey
Pictured: A woman is rescued from the wreckage of a building during ongoing search and rescue efforts after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit southern provinces of Turkey on Monday
Pictured: A man holds his head in his hands amongst the rubble in Diyarbakir, Turkey after the city was devastated by Monday morning’s earthquake
Pictured: Turkish gendarmerie rescued a cat under the rubble of a Galeria Mall after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Diyarbakir, Turkey
Pictured: A Latin Catholic church in Hatay lies in ruins on Monday after the earthquake
In the Turkish city of Adana, one resident said three buildings near his home collapsed. ‘I don’t have the strength anymore,’ one survivor could be heard calling out from beneath the rubble as rescue workers tried to reach him, said the resident, journalism student Muhammet Fatih Yavus.
Images from Diyarbakir showed hundreds of rescue workers and civilians forming lines across huge piles of wreckage, passing down pieces of concrete and household items as they worked to clear the debris in the search for survivors.
Any survivors they did find were strapped into stretchers and taken to ambulances.
Rescue teams called for silence as they tried to listen for survivors under the wreckage of an 11-storey building.
In Sanliurfa, at least 10 deaths have been confirmed, according to Gov. Salih Ayhan.
Several buildings tumbled down in the neighboring provinces of Malatya, Diyarbakir and Malatya. A hospital collapsed in the Mediterranean coastal city of Iskanderoun, but casualties were not immediately known, Turkey’s Vice President said.
‘Unfortunately, at the same time, we are also struggling with extremely severe weather conditions,’ Otkay told reporters. Nearly 2,800 search and rescue teams have been deployed in the disaster-stricken areas, he said.
One U.S.-based Turkish citizen, Eren Bali, tweeted footage showing collapsed buildings in his hometown of Malatya.
‘Southeast Turkey was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that lasted 90 seconds,’ he said. ‘Over 100 buildings were reported to have collapsed in my home town alone (Malatya).’
Unverified images from Hatay appeared to show a family being dragged out of the rubble of a collapsed home, amid heavy snowfall.
The same Twitter user posted another clip showing a boy being rescued.
Another person shared what he said was footage from Gaziantep, showing burst water pipes flooding the streets.
People trying to leave the quake-stricken regions caused traffic jams, hampering efforts of emergency teams trying to reach the affected areas.
Authorities urged residents not to take to the roads.
In this video grab from AFP TV taken on February 6, 2023, rescuers search for victims of a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Diyarbakir, in southeastern Turkey
As day breaks on Monday, rescue workers in Diyarbakir survey the scene of a collapsed building
People search through rubble following an earthquake in Diyarbakir
In Syria, in Aleppo alone, 24 people had died and 100 were injured when 20 buildings collapsed in the province, the official news agency SANA had said, quoting an official in the province.
Even before the tragedy, buildings in Aleppo – Syria’s pre-war commercial hub – often collapsed due to the dilapidated infrastructure after more than a decade of war and devastating airstrikes, as well as little oversight to ensure safety of new construction projects, some built illegally.
SANA said the earthquake was felt from the western coast of Latakia to Damascus.
‘This earthquake is the strongest since the National Earthquake Centre was founded in 1995,’ Raed Ahmed, who heads the centre, told SANA.
Near the border town of Azaz found on the Syrian side, an AFP correspondent saw rescuers pull out survivors as well as five bodies out of the rubble of a three-storey building that crumbled.
Deaths were also reported in northern Syrian areas controlled by pro-Turkish factions. ‘We have been working on rescuing survivors and recovering the dead from under the rubble’ in the regions of Azaz and Al-Bab, Omar Alwan, the medical response coordinator for the area, told AFP reporters.
Rescue workers and residents using flashlights were searching through piles of tangled metal and concrete rubble in one of the stricken cities.
People on the street shouted up to others inside a partially toppled apartment building, leaning dangerously.
Pitured: People search through rubble following an earthquake in Adana, Turkey
People search for survivors under the rubble following an earthquake in Diyarbakir, Turkey
First aid responders rescue a person from the rubble of the destroyed apartment building after the earthquake shook Hatay, Turkey, in the early hours of Monday morning
People walk next to a mosque destroyed by an earthquake in Malatya
A building was destroyed following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Turkey on Monday morning
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter that ‘search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched’ to the areas hit by the quake
Pictured: Rescuers work at the site of a damaged building, following an earthquake, in rebel-held Azaz, Syria February 6, 2023
Pictured: A view of the destroyed buildings after earthquakes jolts Turkey provinces, on February 6, 2023 in Malatya
Pictured: Rescue workers pour through the rubble of a collapsed building in Syria on Monday
Other countries were quick to offer their assistance to Turkey and Syria, with President Erdogan saying 45 governments had said they would help.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the UK stands ready.
He tweeted: ‘Tragic loss of life in the Turkey and Syria earthquake. Our condolences go to the families of those who died and our thoughts are with the survivors. The UK stands ready to provide assistance.’
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak echoed his foreign secretary’s statement, saying: ‘My thoughts are with the people of Turkey and Syria this morning, particularly with those first responders working so valiantly to save those trapped by the earthquake. The UK stands ready to help in whatever way we can.’
Jake Sullivan, Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser, tweeted that the US President had instructed the federal government to prepare assistance from the United States.
‘The US is profoundly concerned by the reports of today’s destructive earthquake in Turkey and Syria,’ Sullivan said.
‘We stand ready to provide any and all needed assistance. President Biden has directed USAID and other federal government partners to assess US response options to help those most affected. We will continue to closely monitor the situation in coordination with the government of Turkey.’
The statement did not say whether the US would work directly with the Syrian government, against which the US currently has economic sanctions in place.
Samantha Power, the head of USAID, said they were looking at how best to assist.
‘Deeply concerned about the earthquake that just struck Turkiye & Syria,’ she tweeted. ‘It’s one of the most powerful to hit Turkiye in 100 yrs, and the human toll, including on already displaced Syrians, will be devastating.
‘@POTUS has directed @USAID to assess how we can help those impacted.’
An injured man and child await treatment at the emergency ward of the Bab al-Hawa hospital following an earthquake, in the rebel-held northern countryside of Syria’s Idlib province on the border with Turkey, early on February 6, 2023
Pictured: An injured child is carried to the emergency ward of the Bab al-Hawa hospital following an earthquake, in the rebel-held northern countryside of Syria’s Idlib province on the border with Turkey, early on February 6, 2023
Two injured men and a child receive treatment at the Bab al-Hawa hospital following an earthquake, in the rebel-held northern countryside of Syria’s Idlib province on the border with Turkey, early on February 6, 2023
Picturd: People injured in a morning earthquake receive treatment at al-Rahma hospital in Syria’s town of Darkush, on the outskirts of the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib
Pictured: Three patients are seen in al-Rahma hospital in Syria’s town of Darkush, on the outskirts of the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib, after being injured in the quake
A view of destroyed apartment in Yurt neighborhood of Cukurova district after the earthquake in Adana, Turkey
Residents of a collapsed building look on in shock in Maltaya, Turkey
Pictured: Rescuers are seen in the Syrian city of Hama trying to pull people from the rubble
A mangled building is seen, with cars crushed below, in Gaziantep
Rescue workers in Adana, Turkey, are seen scouring the rubble
India’s leader, Narendra Modi, also offered support.
‘Anguished by the loss of lives and damage of property due to the Earthquake in Turkey,’ he tweeted.
‘Condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon.
‘India stands in solidarity with the people of Turkey and is ready to offer all possible assistance to cope with this tragedy.’
He posted a similar message of support for Syria.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky also offered his war-torn country’s support.
‘Shocked by the news about the death and injury of hundreds of people as a result of the earthquake in Turkey,’ he tweeted on Monday morning.
‘We extend our condolences to the families of the victims and wish the injured a speedy recovery. We are in this moment close to the friendly Turkish people, ready to provide the necessary assistance.’
Josep Borrell, the European Union’s most senior diplomat, said that the 27-country bloc was ready to help the devastated countries.
‘Devastating earthquake rocked Türkiye and Syria this morning, claiming the lives of hundreds of people and injuring many more,’ he wrote on Twitter.
‘Our thoughts are with the people of Türkiye and Syria. The EU is ready to help.’
It was later announced that the European Union had mobilised 10 search and rescue teams. ‘Teams from the Netherlands and Romania are already on their way,’ with the EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre overseeing their deployment, the bloc’s crisis management commissioner Janez Lenarcic tweeted.
He said that the bloc’s Civil Protection Mechanism had been activated to respond to the quake, which hit Turkey and Syria, causing deaths and destruction in both countries. His office said that Turkey had requested EU assistance.
The Netherlands, Israel, Bulgaria, Greece, Spain, Poland, Taiwan, Russia and even Iran were among the dozens of other counties offer their assistance.
Russian president Vladimir Putin offered his condolences to Syria and Turkey, while Russia’s emergencies ministry said it two IL-76 aircraft with 100 rescuers were ready to fly out to Turkey if required.
Russia, which is closely allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, maintains a significant military presence in that country. Putin also has a strong rapport with President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, a NATO member which has nevertheless sought to mediate in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
A view of the destroyed building after earthquakes jolts Turkiye’s provinces
It’s believed that the death toll will rise into the hundreds
On the ground in Syria, Fared Al Mahlool, a local journalist based in the country, tweeted video showing collapsed houses and people scrabbling through the rubble.
‘Here in the city of Salqin in rural Idlib, Syria,’ he wrote. ‘We hit a violent earthquake and destroyed everything. Buildings destroyed and people under rubble.’
In northwest Syria, authorities in the region as ‘disastrous’ adding that entire buildings have collapsed and people are trapped under the rubble.
The quake smashed opposition-held regions that are packed with some four million Syrians displaced from other parts of the country by the long civil war.
Many of them live in decrepit conditions with little health care.
At least 11 were killed in one Syrian town, Atmeh, and many more were buried in the rubble, a doctor in the town, Muheeb Qaddour, told The Associated Press by telephone.
‘We fear that the deaths are in the hundreds,’ Qaddour said, referring to the rebel-held northwest. We are under extreme pressure.’
The civil defense urged people to evacuate buildings to gather in open areas.
Emergency rooms were full of injured, said Amjad Rass, president of the Syrian American Medical Society.
A view of the destroyed building after 7.8 magnitude earthquake jolts the region
Buildings have collapsed during the tremors
The earthquake came as the Middle East is experiencing a snowstorm that is expected to continue until Thursday
Vehicles are smashed as buildings tumble during the earthquake
Devastation and clean up crews seen in the Gaziantep province
A collapsed building is seen following an earthquake in Pazarcik, in Kahramanmaras province, southern Turkey
Syria’s state media reported that some buildings collapsed in the northern city of Aleppo and the central city of Hama.
In Damascus, buildings shook and many people went down to the streets in fear.
‘Paintings fell off the walls in the house,’ said Samer, a resident of the Syrian city.
‘I woke up terrified. Now we’re all dressed and standing at the door.’
In north-west Syria, the quake added new woes to the opposition-held enclave centred on the province of Idlib, which has been under siege for years, with frequent Russian and government air strikes.
The territory depends on a flow of aid from nearby Turkey for everything from food to medical supplies.
The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defence described the situation there as ‘disastrous’, adding that entire buildings have collapsed and people are trapped under rubble.
Pictured: Syrian president al-Assad (centre) chairing a emergency cabinet meeting in Damascus, Syria, 06 February 2023
In the small Syrian rebel-held town of Azmarin by the Turkish border, the bodies of several dead children, wrapped in blankets, were taken to a hospital.
In Lebanon, the quake jolted residents from their beds, shaking buildings for about 40 seconds. Many residents of Beirut left their homes and took to the streets or drove in their cars away from buildings.
The earthquake came as the Middle East is experiencing a snowstorm that is expected to continue until Thursday.
The head of the Turkish Red Cross said it was mobilizing resources for the region as it had received information of serious damage and collapsed buildings, and urged people to evacuate damaged homes.
Turkey is in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones, sitting in a fault line.
The Turkish region of Duzce suffered a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in 1999 – the worst to hit Turkey in decades.
That quake killed more than 17,000 people, including about 1,000 in Istanbul.
Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate Istanbul, which has allowed widespread building without safety precautions.
A magnitude-6.8 quake hit Elazig in January 2020, killing more than 40 people.
And in October that year, a magnitude-7.0 quake hit Turkey’s Aegean coast, killing 114 people and wounding more than 1,000.
The last 7.8-magnitude tremor shook Turkey in 1939, when 33,000 died in the eastern province of Erzincan.