Multiple fatal earthquakes have caused insurmountable destruction in the already war-torn areas of Syria and a significant region of Turkey.
The earthquakes, which have come to be known as the Kahramanmaras earthquakes are the effect of the eventual convergent boundary collision between the Anatolian and Arabian tectonic plates. Earthquakes are extremely hard to predict, unlike volcanoes, and so the 7.8-level earthquake came at a time no one expected and at a scale unlike anything seen in the region in the last 200 years. The death toll has currently surpassed 47,000 and is still expected to rise and the World Health Organization has stated that 26 million people are in need of assistance across both countries.
The first earthquake was registered in the early hours of the morning of the 6th of February 2023. An earthquake at a level of 7.8 as seen at that time involves severe damage to buildings with most collapsing and can be felt across a great distance however majorly impacting and causing destruction only around 250km from the plate boundary. The next significant earthquake occurred shortly afterwards. After these initial earthquakes, multiple tremors were felt over the next few days.
On the 20th of February, the next crucial earthquake happened at a magnitude of 6.4 this time meaning strong to violent shaking and damage to a moderate number of buildings. This came after the majority of charity aid and rescue missions had come to end. It is thought that this earthquake has not had as big of an impact as the last due to the region being less populated since the last earthquake.
The impact of these earthquakes is a death toll of over 47,00 people, over a million people left homeless and an economic cost of billions of dollars. There is criticism in Turkey regarding the building of structures able to withstand earthquakes and the government’s failure to ensure proper checks are carried out. In Syria alone, more than 5,800 people have died as a result of the earthquake and this comes after a decade of intense war. Syria has been impacted over the previous decade by multiple crises and extreme deprivation. Due to the unusual political situation, even getting aid to the country can be difficult. The area affected by the earthquake is controlled by multiple warring rulers.
Many countries have offered aid and help continues to be put forward.