At dawn on Monday, an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter Scale rocked southern Turkey and northwest Syria. Its epicentre was in Marash in Turkey, and its shockwaves reached out for hundreds of kilometres causing calamitous destruction and killing and injuring thousands of people.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said as Al-Ahram Weekly went to press, that the number of victims could climb substantially over the coming days.
The head of earthquake research in Turkey said that this was the strongest earthquake to hit the country since 1999, while the country’s emergency services said on Monday that there had been 78 aftershocks after the main earthquake.
Turkey’s armed forces created an air corridor to deliver aid to the afflicted regions, having to find alternatives to airports in southern cities where runways had been seriously damaged.
The railway to Turkey’s southern Gaziantep Province had been damaged, and the Turkish Ministry of Education suspended schools for two weeks in provinces impacted by the earthquake. The Turkish government declared a Level 4 emergency, meaning that it is accepting international assistance after the disaster.
The EU quickly dispatched rescue teams to Turkey and vowed to assist by all means necessary. The Russian government said it would send 100 search and rescue personnel, and the Czech Prime Minister said his country would send a search and rescue team of 67.
Hungary immediately sent search and rescue teams, while the US, China, Israel, Iran, Egypt, Japan, France, Italy, Britain and others volunteered urgent assistance at all levels to assist in overcoming the calamity.
Erdogan said that 45 countries so far had said they would help in rescue operations in the wake of the devastating earthquake.