Syria-Turkey earthquake

7.8 magnitude of earthquake hits Syria and Turkey

A strong 7.8 magnitude earthquake occurred early on Monday, February 6, 2023, close to Turkey’s border with northern Syria.

The extent of the destruction is still unknown. However, we are aware that the earthquake has already resulted in more than 2,300 fatalities, hundreds of injuries, and the destruction of thousands of homes and structures.

There were 42 aftershocks following the earthquake, the strongest of which had a magnitude of 6.6. The earthquake was felt by millions of people in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Israel.

CAFOD has started an earthquake appeal to raise money for our partners who are already providing assistance.

How is CAFOD responding? 

Local CAFOD professionals are already present and evaluating the needs of earthquake victims. CAFOD has pledged £100,000 to support our local experts who are part of the team providing immediate humanitarian aid to earthquake survivors.

Prior to the earthquake, CAFOD was already collaborating with local authorities to provide humanitarian aid to families in need throughout Syria who had been impacted by the 12-year conflict.

This is another another terrible problem that Syrians must deal with. With 80% of the population living in poverty, the situation in the area was already dire before the earthquake. Due to the conflict’s effects, millions of people have been compelled to abandon their homes and the economy is currently in a state of collapse.

Turkey earthquake: Where did it hit and why was it so deadly?

A massive earthquake that occurred early on Monday morning in southeast Turkey, close to the Syrian border, left more than 2,000 people dead and many injured.

Numerous aftershocks, including one that was nearly as strong as the initial tremor, were immediately felt after the earthquake, which occurred close to the town of Gaziantep.

Why was it so deadly?

The official magnitude scale classifies it as a “major” earthquake because it registered at 7.8. It ruptured along a fault line that was approximately 100 km (62 miles) long, seriously damaging buildings close to the fault.

“Of the deadliest earthquakes in any given year, only two in the last 10 years have been of equal magnitude, and four in the previous 10 years,” said Prof. Joanna Faure Walker, director of the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction at University College London.

Devastation, however, is brought on by more than just the tremor’s strength.

Early in the morning, while individuals were inside sleeping, this incidence took place.

Another element is the buildings’ durability.

Reader in volcanology and risk communication at the University of Portsmouth, Dr. Carmen Solana says: “Sadly, there are gaps in the resistant infrastructure in South Turkey and notably in Syria, thus preserving life now mostly depends on response. It’s imperative to find survivors within the next 24 hours. The number of surviving drastically declines after 48 hours.”

The level of readiness would be lower than for a place that was more accustomed to dealing with earthquakes because there hadn’t been a large earthquake in this area in more than 200 years or any warning indicators.

before and after pictures of some of the collapsed building

What caused the earthquake?

The plates that make up the Earth’s crust are discrete pieces that cling to one another.

These plates frequently try to move but are unable to do so due to friction caused by rubbing against an adjacent plate. However, occasionally the pressure increases to the point that one plate suddenly jerks across, moving the surface.

In this instance, the Arabian plate was drifting north and slamming against the Anatolian plate.

In the past, extremely destructive earthquakes have been caused by plate-boundary friction.

It resulted in an earthquake on August 13, 1822, measuring 7.4 instead of the 7.8 magnitude measured on Monday.

Even yet, the earthquake of the 19th century caused significant damage to nearby communities, with 7,000 fatalities reported in the city of Aleppo alone. Injurious aftershocks persisted for almost a year.

Scientists anticipate the current earthquake, which has already been followed by a number of aftershocks, will follow the same pattern as the previous significant one in the area.

How are earthquakes measured?

They are measured on a scale called the Moment Magnitude Scale (Mw). This has replaced the better known Richter scale, now considered outdated and less accurate.

The number attributed to an earthquake represents a combination of the distance the fault line has moved and the force that moved it .

A tremor of 2.5 or less usually cannot be felt, but can be detected by instruments. Quakes of up to five are felt and cause minor damage. The Turkish earthquake at 7.8 is classified as major and usually causes serious damage, as it has in this instance.

Anything above 8 causes catastrophic damage and can totally destroy communities at its centre.

How does this compare with other large earthquakes?

The earthquake off the coast of Japan in 2011 was registered as magnitude 9 and caused widespread damage on the land, and caused a tsunami – which led to a major accident at nuclear plant along the coast.

The largest ever earthquake was 9.5 recorded in Chile in 1960.


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