Earthquake in Turkey and Syria

Turkey earthquake – a glimpse of the ECHO assessment,

Turkey earthquake – a glimpse of the ECHO assessment,

Alice Chen and Emilia Sato

On the early morning of February 6, 2023, tragedy struck the countries of Turkey and Syria—a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit southern and central Turkey and northern and western Syria at approximately 4:17 am, while most citizens were asleep and unaware of the unfolding disaster. Nine hours later, a magnitude 7.7 quake struck Kahramanmaraş Province and only contributed to the widespread destruction. The natural disaster is known as the deadliest of Turkey’s modern history, and rightfully so; the earthquake ultimately crippled large regions of each country, severely damaging buildings, landmarks, and roads. Causing nearly 48,000 deaths, among which over  41,000 were from Turkey and 6,600 from Syria, the sheer scale of this disaster is clear; this level of loss has and is continuing to bring unbearable amounts of pain and anguish to the people of Turkey and Syria, especially those who had to say goodbye to loved ones. It has also led to a large influx of orphaned children who lost their parents in the earthquake. Abdulkalfi al-Hamdo, an activist in Northern Syria echoed this. “People here are not safe,” he told the press. Al-Hamdo does not seem to be the only one expressing this contempt for the state of the nations.


Following the devastation of the earthquakes, critical scrutiny has been placed on the fallen buildings of Turkey and Syria and their apparent failure to protect the people as they should have. After the rawness of loss and grief had slightly subsided, more and more people began calling out contractors and leaders for being negligent about the safety of the city buildings even when they were located in earthquake-prone areas. The criticism erupted to a point that investigations and even authorities became involved- just recently, Turkish authorities detained contractors over the construction of buildings that collapsed in the quake. To date, 78 individuals have also been arrested for spreading “provocative and fear-inducing” social media posts, essentially creating a cat-chase-mouse conflict between concerned citizens and their government.

Unfortunately, while Turkey was on the road to recovery, the country was hit by another earthquake exactly two weeks later on February 20, 2023. Although the quake was slightly weaker, with a magnitude of 6.4, it stirred great panic and brought further destruction to Halay Province, a region that was already devastated by the first earthquake. Only time can truly tell what will come next.

It may seem like Turkey and Syria are in a constant loop of destruction and fear, but this isn’t entirely true. Even in the worst of moments, bits of humanity glimmer through. Thanks to the outstanding efforts of rescue teams in Turkey and Syria, many stories of success and miracles have arisen from the rubble; these unbelievable stories include a 10-year-old girl and a 35-year-old man being rescued after being buried in debris for almost 150 hours, and also a newborn baby girl 

found alive in Syria with her umbilical cord still attached to her mother, who died during the earthquake. In addition, according to the prime minister of Pakistan, an anonymous man in the US walked into the Turkish embassy and donated $30 million to quake victims. The bottom line; there remain bits of human kindness and beauty that withstand the overall horror of the situation.

In the meantime, there absolutely are ways to make a difference for those who are suffering by donating to charity or helpful fundraisers that are available online. Perhaps the best thing we can do is to support the victims as much as we can.