Devastating Earthquake Strikes Syria and Turkey


Salem Mohammadi

Source: Tasnim News Agengy

Loor Elbedour

The morning of February 6th greeted the Syrian and Turkish border with a 7.8-magnitude earthquake. This earthquake collapsed buildings and left many under the rubble to be found in the aftermath. Reportedly, the earthquake was the strongest that has struck this region in over 80 years.

The Arabian Peninsula rests on a section of a tectonic plate that is making its way north into the Eurasian Plate. As this plate was moving north, it was grinding against the Anatolian plate. Geologists explained that the Arabian Plate bumped into the Eurasian one, pushing the Anatolian one toward the west. The clashing of these three plates is what ultimately caused the earthquake.

This natural disaster has immensely affected the already struggling countries of Syria and Turkey. The earthquake mainly hit southeast Turkey and northwest Syria. Some of the Syrian cities affected, such as Idlib and the district of Afrin in Aleppo, are cut off from the rest of Syria and are therefore not able to receive any aid. Idlib, specifically, separated itself from the rest of Syria in order to escape the control of the Syrian regime. This means that any aid given to the current Syrian government will only go to regime supported areas which excludes the affected city of Idlib.

As a result of the Syrian War, many people have been displaced, and many families have been torn apart. Imagine being a refugee from this war living abroad and hearing news of this earthquake with a very limited scope of knowledge on what’s occurring and, on top of that, feeling so helpless. In an interview conducted by the Sentinel, Ahmed Al Kaddour, a Syrian living in America, resonated with these feelings of helplessness upon hearing about his family’s situation in Idlib. He shared details about how his uncle and his family struggled as a result of the natural disaster.

Kaddour described how his uncle and wife were sleeping in a room separate from their two children the morning of the earthquake in their apartment home in Idlib. The children, ages three and six, were separated from their parents when the earth began to rumble and the apartment building split in half. Kaddour’s uncle was able to get himself out in order to look for his children, but his wife did not make it. He could hear his children’s screams under the rubble but was unable to get them out. He recounts that five days later, Kaddour’s uncle “could still hear their screams in my head.” Kaddour’s uncle ended up being the sole survivor of his family.

This story is one of the many devastating testimonies of loss due to the earthquake.

Another city greatly impacted by this earthquake is Aleppo, which alone sustained around 400 deaths and around a thousand injuries. These numbers only include reported persons, but there still remain many victims under the rubble. Syrian hospitals are not well equipped to handle such a catastrophe, especially considering the current state of the country. War-torn Syria continues to deal with inflation, and many hospitals and health centers have been destroyed as a result of bombing during the war. The White Helmets, a relief group in Syria, have been the main organization contributing to rescue efforts. Raed al-Saleh, the head of this group, said that “volunteer rescue workers in northwest Syria have been working around the clock night and day, pulling survivors from the rubble and searching for signs of life — with virtually no help from the outside world.”

The damage to north Syria’s infrastructure is substantive. Furthermore, not only have homes been destroyed but also many historic sites. The Citadel of Aleppo, viewed as one of the oldest and largest castles in the world, was greatly damaged by the earthquake. This historical landmark, dating all the way back to the Ottoman period, has been utilized by many generations. This medieval fortress has stood as a symbol of strength and resilience for Syrians and their ancestors; however, now it remains in ruins.

This natural disaster has affected large numbers of people. It is important for nations to band together in order to restore peace and stability to Syria. It is equally as important to recognize that the tragedy that occurred cannot be overcome in a night’s effort, but relief groups and citizens alike must have hope and remain resilient in the face of hardship.