By Alejandro Ramirez
On Feb. 6 at 4 a.m., a major 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and Syria.
It originated from Turkey’s Gaziantep province. Southern Turkey and Northern Syria felt the brunt of the earthquake. 100 aftershocks have been recorded after this initial earthquake, including a 7.5 magnitude aftershock that hampered rescue efforts.
As of Feb. 9, over 20,000 people have died in Southern Turkey and Northern Syria, with thousands more still trapped in the rubble. According to Turkish officials, over 5,000 buildings were destroyed.
Turkey is located on the Anatolian Fault Lines, considered one of the most seismically active regions in the world. Over 70 earthquakes of 6.5 magnitude or larger have been recorded in the region since 1900. In 1999, an earthquake struck Turkey along the Northern Anatolian fault line, 60 miles from Istanbul. It left over 17,000 people dead.
Seismic activity is caused by the movement of the Earth’s crust, also known as tectonic plates. The fault lines in Turkey are areas where tectonic plates move relative to other tectonic plates.
Rescue efforts have been slowed by cold weather, a lack of heavy equipment, and a slow response from the Turkish government. According to the Turkish Vice President, Fuat Oktay, over 8,000 people have been pulled from the rubble and over 380,000 people have taken shelter in hotels and shelters.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan says that over 13 million people have been affected by the earthquake and he declared a 3-month state of emergency in several provinces in Turkey. Over 70 countries are currently sending rescue teams and aid to Turkey.
Reuters reports that residents of affected areas have accused the Turkish government of a slow and inadequate response, citing a lack of equipment and lack of support.
According to the Syrian Civil Defense, who is leading efforts to help Syrians affected by the earthquake, foreign aid has not yet reached Northwestern Syria, which is under rebel-control. The Syrian government has blamed western sanctions for aid not yet reaching Northern Syria.
According to NPR, U.N. Secretary-General Guterres said, “This is a moment in which everyone must make it very clear that no sanctions of any kind interfere with relief to the population of Syria at the moment.”
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan visited the affected areas on Feb. 8, admitting to a slow response from the Turkish government.
Al Jazeera reports that the critical period of 72 hours has passed, meaning that it will be harder for rescuers to find survivors in affected areas. Despite this, Rescuers continue their search for survivors.The Tampa Bay Times compiled a list of all the places around the Tampa Bay Area sending donations to affected areas.