MIDDLE EAST EARTHQUAKE: 'An Emergency Within an Emergency'

AP Photo/Khalil Hamra

The massive earthquakes that hit Syria and Turkey over the weekend have killed at least 2,400 people, but the death toll is sure to drastically rise with “tens of thousands of citizens… waiting under the rubble” in Hatay alone.


Turkey’s CHP opposition party deputy for Hatay, Serkan Topal, surveyed the damage in his shattered province.

The first quake struck at 4:17 local time Sunday morning near the Turkish city of Gaziantep close to the border and registered 7.8 on the Richter Scale. The second quake registered 7.5 and hit near Kahramanmaraş nine hours later. There were multiple aftershocks, with one as high as 6.5.

Here’s a brief video taken in Antakya where almost nothing appears left standing or at least undamaged.

Some buildings might appear fine at first only to collapse hours later.

This BBC footage is from the Haliliye district in Sanliurfa, Turkey. The suddenness of the collapse shocked me — even though I’d read the caption before clicking play.

Here are two more.

Now for a longer series of clips collected from various sources.


Further away on the Mediterranean coast, a small tsunami hit.

If anything, the situation in northern Syria might be even worse.

“Anywhere else in the world this would be an emergency,” said Mark Kaye, spokesman for the International Rescue Committee, quoted by the New York Times. “What we have in Syria is an emergency within an emergency.”

The civil war there is now in its 12th year. It’s no stretch to say that Syrian building codes were never up to Western standards, and the country’s infrastructure has been subjected to more than a decade of fighting, shelling, and airstrikes.


I decided not to share some videos and photos in this column; they were just too heartbreaking.

There have also been some real miracles, like the one below.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Twitter that “search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched” to the area. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad held an emergency cabinet meeting, but there hasn’t been much more news than that out of the capital.

Here’s the USGS map of the first quake. The most devastated area stretches about 200 miles from the Hatay region near the Turkish coastline/Syrian border, going northeast to Malatya.

Middle East Earthquake
(Public Domain)

If you pray, the people all along that line — and their friends and families spread far and wide — sure could use it right now.

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