AJMARIN, Syria (AP) — A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook Turkey and Syria early Monday, toppling hundreds of buildings and toppling hundreds of buildings. killing over 1,900 people, Hundreds are still believed to be trapped under the rubble, and the death toll is expected to rise as rescuers search for mounds of rubble in cities and towns across the region.
On both sides of the border, residents shaken by the pre-dawn earthquake came out into the cold, rainy and snowy night. Buildings were reduced to stacks of pancake floors, and larger aftershocks or new earthquakes, including one nearly as strong as the first, continued to rattle the region.
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In several cities, rescue workers and residents searched for survivors, working their way through tangles of metal and concrete. A hospital in Turkey collapsed, and patients, including newborns, were evacuated to facilities in Syria.
A resident in the Turkish city of Adana said three buildings near his house collapsed. “I don’t have any more strength,” journalism student Muhammad Fatih Yavuz said, a survivor could be heard calling out from under the rubble as rescuers tried to reach him.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “As efforts continue to clear debris from many buildings in the earthquake zone, we do not know how high the number of dead and injured will rise.” “Hopefully, we will put these disastrous days behind us in unity and togetherness as a country and as a nation.”
The earthquake, which was centered on Turkey’s southeastern province of Kahramanmaras, was felt as far away as Cairo. It sent residents of Damascus on the street, and woke people in Beirut in their beds.
It struck an area which has been shaped on both sides of the border by Civil war has been going on in Syria for more than a decade, On the Syrian side, the affected area is divided between government-held territory and the country’s last opposition-held enclave, which is surrounded by Russian-backed government forces. Turkey, meanwhile, is home to millions of refugees from that conflict.
Some four million people have been displaced from other parts of the country by the fighting in opposition-held areas in Syria. Many of them live in buildings that have already been ruined by the bombings. The White Helmets opposition emergency organization said in a statement that hundreds of families were trapped under the rubble.
Rescuers said strained health facilities and hospitals were quickly filled with the injured. Others, including the maternity hospital, had to be evacuated, according to the SAMS medical organization.
The region lies on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes. A similarly powerful earthquake in 1999 in northwest Turkey killed about 18,000 people.
The US Geological Survey measured the magnitude of Monday’s earthquake at 7.8. Hours later, a magnitude 7.5 aftershock struck more than 100 kilometers (60 mi) away. An official at Turkey’s disaster management agency said it was a new earthquake, not an aftershock, although its effects were not immediately clear. Orhan Tatar told reporters that hundreds of aftershocks were expected after the two earthquakes.
Thousands of buildings were reported to have collapsed over a wide area stretching more than 330 kilometers (200 mi) to the northeast, from the cities of Aleppo and Hama in Syria to Diyarbakır in Turkey. Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said a hospital collapsed in the Mediterranean coastal city of Iskenderun, but the number of casualties was not immediately known.
Television stations in Turkey split the screen into four or five, showing live coverage from rescue efforts in the worst-hit provinces. In the city of Kahramanmaras, rescuers pulled two children alive from the rubble and a child could be seen lying on a stretcher on the icy ground.
Offers of help ranged from search-and-rescue teams to medical supplies and money from dozens of countries, as well as the European Union and NATO.
The damage evident from photographs of affected areas is usually associated with a significant loss of life – while the bitter cold and the difficulty of working in areas beset by civil war will only complicate rescue efforts, Dr Steven Godby, Director of Natural Affairs The expert said the danger at Nottingham Trent University.
In Turkey, people trying to leave earthquake-hit areas caused traffic jams, hampering the efforts of emergency teams trying to reach the affected areas. The administration has appealed to the people not to hit the streets. Mosques around the area were opened to provide shelter for those unable to return to damaged homes amid temperatures hovering near freezing.
In Diyarbakır, hundreds of rescue workers and civilians formed lines across a mountain of rubble, wading through pieces of broken concrete, household items and other debris to search for those trapped, while excavators dug through the rubble below.
In northwest Syria, the earthquake added new perils to the opposition-held enclave centered on Idlib province, which has been under siege for years with frequent Russian and government airstrikes. The region relies on an influx of aid from nearby Turkey for everything from food to medical supplies.
The opposition Syrian Civil Defense described the situation there as “catastrophic”.
At a hospital in Darqush, Idlib, Osama Abdelhamid said most of his neighbors had died. He said their shared four-storey building collapsed as he, his wife and three children ran towards the exit. A wooden door fell on them and acted as a shield.
He said, ‘God has given me a new life.
In the small town of Azmarin, held by Syrian rebels in the mountains near the Turkish border, bodies of several dead children wrapped in blankets were brought to the hospital.
The Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums in Syria said the quake caused some damage to the Crusader-built Merkab, or Watchtower Castle, on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Part of a tower and part of some walls collapsed.
Meanwhile, in Turkey, the earthquake damaged a historic palace atop a hill in the center of the provincial capital of Gaziantep, some 33 kilometers (20 mi) from the epicenter. Parts of the fort’s walls and watch towers were leveled and other parts heavily damaged, photos of the city showed.
The USGS said the quake was 18 kilometers (11 mi) deep.
More than 1,100 people were killed in Turkey’s 10 provinces, while nearly 7,600 were injured, according to the country’s disaster management agency. According to the Ministry of Health, the death toll in Syria’s government-held areas has exceeded 430, while 1,280 people have been injured. In the country’s rebel-held northwest, groups working there said the death toll was at least 380, with many hundreds wounded.
Hüseyin Yayman, a lawmaker from Turkey’s Hatay province, said several members of his family were buried under the rubble of their homes.
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“Many others are also trapped,” he told Haberturk television by telephone. “There are so many buildings that have been damaged. People are on the streets. It is raining, it is cold.