Turkey-Syria Earthquake: What You Should Know


Graphic made by Melissa Kus on Canva

Tragedy in Turkey and Syria: Earthquake Aftermath and Updates. Graphic made by Melissa Kus on Canva

Turkey, a country in the Middle East located right on the border of Asia and Europe, is known for its popular tourist destinations, such as Istanbul and Cappadocia. Now, Turkey is calling for international help, after a devastating earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 struck Kahramanamaras and Gaziantep on Feb. 6, 2023, which will change lives forever.

The earthquake first struck Gazientep with a magnitude of 7.8, and then the aftershocks struck Kahramanmaraş with a magnitude of 7.5. The strength of the earthquake not only destroyed many other cities in Turkey, but also harmed other countries to a great extent, such as Syria. The destruction zone span between Adana and Diyarbakir was compared to the same distance as Philadelphia and Boston, roughly 300 miles away from each other. With the amount of damage and destruction the earthquake has caused in Turkey and Syria, it is being called one of “the most devastating and deadliest quakes in recent history.” Reuters states, “The earthquake was the biggest recorded worldwide by the U.S. Geological Survey since a tremor in the remote South Atlantic in August 2021.”

As of February 13, the death toll in both Syria and Turkey combined surpasses 35,000; in Turkey being 31,643 and in Syria being 5,714. Although these numbers alone are high, there are still areas emergency workers haven’t covered, and more people will end up dead underneath the rubble due to the cold and starvation before they can be saved.

According to USGS, there was a great amount of seismic activity within the same fault lines in 24 hours. 11 minutes after the 7.8 earthquake, aftershocks followed which were at magnitudes of 6.7 and then one with a magnitude of 7.5, which ended up being the largest aftershock that followed the 7.8 earthquake. This aftershock caused the most damage and ruined anything that was left from the first earthquake even more. Turkey is known for its earthquakes, as there have been many in the past, but the weak infrastructure used in apartment complexes and other buildings cause the earthquakes to be deadlier than they already are. “Sadly, the Turkish economy is already in dire straits, as we all know; high inflation, budget deficits, current account deficits and so on… And it is obvious that this earthquake is going to put a lot of pressure on the Turkish economy on the inflation side, as well as on the budget side,” Arda Tunca, an Istanbul-based economist at PolitikYol states. Victims of the earthquake have shared videos on social media of their apartment buildings collapsing in seconds, even after the earthquake has passed. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stated that “about 3,000 buildings collapsed due to the earthquake,” and he has declared a three-month state of emergency for 10 of Turkey’s provinces.

Many organizations, such as UNICEF and Embrace Relief, have been collecting donations for Turkey and Syria, and many emergency workers and aid workers in Turkey have been working to get donations out to as many people as they can Fenerbahce, Besiktas, Galatasaray, Trabzonspor, and many other soccer clubs in Turkey have also been collecting boxes full of donations and sending countless amounts of trucks to the areas of destruction. Along with donations, the EU has also sent over 1,000 rescue workers and 70 rescue dogs to Turkey to help with the search for the missing people still under the rubble. President Joe Biden also tweeted out saying, “I have directed my team to continue to closely monitor the situation in coordination with Turkiye [sic] and provide any and all needed assistance,” and has also stated that his administration has been working closely with Turkey. The Turkish Embassy has also asked for donations such as tents, sleeping bags, winter clothes, blankets, shoes, and hygiene and feminine products. As shelters are quickly filling up, people have resorted to staying in tents and cars on the streets of Turkey.

However, the situation in Syria is equally as bad as it is in Turkey. Syria, having been in civil wars for years, was most unprepared for a disaster like this. Syrian people have already been living in terrible conditions for years; on the streets in tents and shacks with little to none health/emergency services to depend on. The country’s infrastructure has already been damaged over time, and the earthquake has destroyed what’s left of it even more.

The wars in Syria have also been getting in the way of help. Many Syrians living abroad desperately want to send help and donations to their country, but fear that it won’t reach them due to the deep political views of the country. Molham Volunteering Group, a Syrian organization that isn’t affiliated with the Syrian government, has raised over 1.6 million euros ($1.7 million USD). Although the organization’s efforts have been successful, social media users bring up the fact that donations might not be getting to Syrians located in regions under the control of President Bashar as-Assad’s government. “Our team is prohibited from working in the government-controlled areas,” Atef Nanoua, a founding member of Molham team states states. “I come from the town of Jableh, one of the areas most impacted by the earthquake and I would love to help my people there, but the Syrian regime only allows humanitarian aid from organisations [sic] affiliated with it… Anyone who cooperates with our organisation is regarded as a terrorist.”

Not only do Syrians fear that their donations may not get to the ones in need, but they also fear that all their donations will go directly to Syrian government or fall under their control. Syrians have been seen in posts via Instagram and Tiktok trying to dig through the rubble with their bare hands and buckets to try to rescue their people since they have no real equipment or aid. The lack of aid donations and emergency workers in the country are leading to quick deaths and people still missing underneath the rubble, as the survivors can’t lift remains of collapsed buildings and cement easily with no real help by themselves.

The heartbreaking race against time has been continuing for days in Turkey and Syria. Turks and Syrians living both in the country and abroad have lost many friends and family members. This isn’t a matter of politics, but a matter of humanity.

Lives are being lost, and you too can do something to help. Not only can you donate to charities and organizations located in Turkey and Syria, but you can also donate at Patriot High School. Patriot’s Key Club and No Place For Hate Club is holding a donation drive for Turkey/Syria where you can donate items needed until Feb. 17 to Room 1215.

Donation Links:


Embrace Relief

Turkish Embassy

The White Helmets (Syria Civil Defense)

Syrian American Medical Society Foundation

Save the Children