Diyarbakir/Ankara, Feb. 6 (BNA) A 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck central Turkey and northwestern Syria today, Monday, killing hundreds of people, as buildings collapsed across the snowy region, prompting a search for survivors trapped under the rubble.
The quake, which struck in the early dark of a winter’s day, was felt by residents of Cyprus and Lebanon.
“I have never felt anything like this in the 40 years that I have lived,” said Erdem, a resident of the Turkish city of Gaziantep, near the epicenter of the earthquake, who refused to reveal his surname.
“We were rocked at least three times very vigorously, like a baby in a crib.”
Turkey’s disaster management agency said 76 people were killed and 440 injured while authorities rushed rescue teams and aircraft supplies to the affected area, while declaring a “level four alert” calling for international assistance, Reuters reported.
Syrian state media said more than 100 people were killed and dozens wounded, most of them in the provinces of Hama, Aleppo and Latakia, where many buildings were demolished.
“The situation is very tragic, dozens of buildings collapsed in the city of Salqin,” a member of the White Helmets rescue organization said in a video on Twitter, referring to a town about five kilometers from the Turkish border. .
The rescuer, who appeared in the clip showing a rubble-strewn street, said the houses were “totally destroyed”.
Many buildings in the area have already suffered damage during the fighting during the nearly 12-year Syrian civil war.
Eyewitnesses said that people in Damascus and in the Lebanese cities of Beirut and Tripoli took to the streets and got out of their cars to get away from their buildings in case they collapsed.
In Gaziantep, Turkey, Erdem said people had fled their shaky homes and were too afraid to return.
“Everyone is sitting in their cars or trying to drive to open spaces away from buildings,” Erdem said by phone. “I imagine not a single person in Gaziantep is in their homes now.”
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Twitter that the United States was “very concerned” about the earthquake in Turkey and Syria and was watching events closely.