More than 1300 dead - Heavy earthquakes shake Turkey and Syria

Magnitude of up to 7.8 Violent earthquakes have caused great devastation in southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria in the early morning. There are now more than 1,000 dead. Many buildings collapsed. Many more are feared dead under the rubble.

More than 1300 dead - Heavy earthquakes shake Turkey and Syria

Earthquakes in southeastern Turkey and northeastern Syria killed more than 1,000 people on Monday, according to official figures. In Turkey, at least 912 dead were counted in the morning, according to President Erdogan. More than 5300 people were injured, he said. For Syria, Deputy Health Minister Ahmed Dhamirijeh cited 230 dead and more than 600 injured in several provinces on state television. The SAMS aid organization, which works in rebel-held areas of Syria, reported more than 100 additional deaths.

A 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck southeastern Turkey early Monday morning. The epicenter was in the province of Kahramanmaras near the Syrian border, according to the Afad disaster management agency. Another quake with a magnitude of 6.6 was measured shortly afterwards in Gaziantep province.

Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria: "The situation is very tragic"

In Syria, buildings collapsed in numerous towns, according to Sana. Photos showed rescue teams carrying people away on stretchers. The head of the National Earthquake Center, Raed Ahmed, said this was the strongest quake in Syria since 1995, according to Sana.

For its part, the White Helmets rescue organization spoke of many dead. "We are responding with everything we can to save those who are under the rubble," said the group's head, Raed Al Saleh. "The situation is very tragic," said a member of the group.

In Turkey, several provinces have been affected, according to the interior minister. At least 1700 buildings have collapsed in Turkey, he said. Rescue teams from across the country were being pulled together, he said. In addition, the alert level four had been declared and thus international assistance had also been requested. There were a total of 22 aftershocks, some of them strong.

Turkish President Erdogan speaks out on Twitter

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote on Twitter, "We hope that together we will get through this disaster in the shortest possible time and with the least possible damage."

Greece said it was ready to send rescue teams to the earthquake zone in the neighboring country, despite severe tensions with Turkey. "Greece will help immediately," Greek head of government Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. Israel also plans to provide humanitarian aid to Turkey. Israeli Defense Minister Joav Galant instructed the army and Defense Ministry on Monday to make appropriate preparations.

Only in 2020 there was a severe earthquake in Turkey

Turkey is repeatedly affected by severe earthquakes. Two of the largest continental plates border each other there: the African and the Eurasian. Most of the Turkish population lives in constant danger of earthquakes.

One of the most momentous quakes in recent years killed more than 100 people in Izmir in October 2020. In 1999, Turkey was hit by one of the worst natural disasters in its history: A magnitude 7.4 quake in the region around the northwestern industrial city of Izmit claimed the lives of more than 17,000 people. Experts also expect a strong quake to hit Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, in the near future.