As people slept, a big earthquake knocked down buildings in Turkey and Syria

As people slept, a big earthquake knocked down buildings in Turkey and SyriaOver 1,700 people were killed in a powerful earthquake in south-eastern Turkey near the Syrian border.

The US Geological Survey reported a 7.8 magnitude tremor near Gaziantep at 04:17 local time (01:17 GMT) at 17.9km (11 miles).

A second 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck Elbistan, Kahramanmaras province, hours later.

Over 1,000 Turks and 780 Syrians have died.

Seismologists called the first quake one of Turkey’s largest.

5,385 Turks and 2,000 Syrians were injured.

Millions of refugees live in camps on both sides of the -Turkey border in northern Syria, where many victims are. In rebel-held areas, dozens have died.

Rescue teams are searching for survivors under huge piles of rubble in freezing and snowy conditions after many buildings collapsed.

Images show four- and five-story buildings flattened, roads destroyed, and mountains of rubble.

Gaziantep Castle—a 2,000-year-old landmark—was destroyed.

A BBC Turkish correspondent said a Diyarbakir shopping mall collapsed.

At 13:24 local time (10:24 GMT), the second quake hit the Pazarcik district of Kahramanmaras province 80 miles (128km) north of the first.

It was “not an aftershock” and “independent” from the earlier quake, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority.

A toddler was found alive in Azaz, Syria, hours after the first earthquake. Rescuers run to save her.

The Turkish Red Crescent’s president, Kerem Kınık, tweeted that blood and medical supplies were being sent to the affected region.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 45 nations offered aid after an international appeal.

The Netherlands, Romania, and the EU are sending search and rescue teams to Turkey. The UK will send 76 rescuers, equipment, and dogs to Turkey.

France, Germany, Israel, and the US have offered aid. Iran and Vladimir Putin have offered assistance to Turkey and Syria.

Hatay, Osmaniye, Adiyaman, Malatya, Sanliurfa, Adana, Diyarbakir, and Kilis were affected by the first earthquake, according to Turkish Interior Minister Suleymon Soylu.

Those cities have suspended school for a week.


President Erdogan of Turkey reported 912 earthquake deaths, with more expected.

The Syrian health ministry reported 371 deaths in Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, and Tartus.

A White Helmets volunteer in rebel-controlled northwestern Syria held back tears as he described the carnage in Sarmada, near Turkey.

“Many structures in different cities and villages in north-western Syria collapsed,” he told BBC.

Many families remain buried. It’s hard to save them.

The international community must assist us. Northwestern Syria is a disaster. He added, “We need everyone’s help to save our people.”

The earthquake was felt in Cyprus, Lebanon, and Israel.

“I was writing something and just all of a sudden the entire building started shaking and yes I didn’t really know what to feel,” Beirut student Mohamad El Chamaa told the BBC.

“I was right next to the window so I was scared they might shatter.” For four to five minutes, it was horrifying. He called it mind-blowing.

Rushdi Abualouf, a BBC producer in Gaza, said his house shook for 45 seconds.

Turkey is a major earthquake zone.

In 1999, a powerful earthquake in the north-west killed over 17,000 people.

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