Turkey and Syria’s Recent Earthquakes

by Teddy Machera, Staff Writer

Just earlier this month, tragedy struck when the neighboring countries of Turkey and Syria were impacted with highly destructive earthquakes. These earthquakes, which have lingered in their effect, have taken a large number of lives, and devastated the living situation of many more. For an area of the world already occupied with other issues, a chain of destructive earthquakes is only aggravating these issues.

Gaziantep, a diversely inhabited city in Turkey sitting near the border of Syria, was the main subject of the initial earthquakes. On February 6, two earthquakes, both of which were over a magnitude of 7.5, hit Gaziantep and its surrounding area. For comparison, no earthquake in Turkey has been this strong since 1939. Within the first 24 hours alone, Turkey suffered over 5,000 deaths and the destruction of over 5,000 buildings. At the time this article is being written, the death toll in Turkey and Syria has surpassed 46,000, and damages have amassed to over $84 billion. All together, it makes for the deadliest natural disaster since the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. Even through all of this, the Turkey-Syria border has been dealing with unrelated issues for many years prior. Following the Syrian Civil War of 2011, the number of refugees entering Turkey has reached an extreme amount. The city of Gaziantep alone, which populates just over 2 million people, consists of over half a million refugees.

While the number of refugees isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the tension it brings into Turkey makes the earthquakes all that more difficult to handle. On top of this, Turkey plans to celebrate its centennial later this year, which also happens to overlap with the tense election, in which their current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan looks to extend his 20 year rule. Unfortunately, this poses another conflicting challenge that could potentially interfere with the Earthquake and the relief surrounding it. More problems is just about the last thing you need when dealing with earthquakes, especially of this size.

While some of those affected are anxiously waiting to recover valued possessions from their homes, others are in fear of stepping foot anywhere near where they lived prior to the earthquakes. Many people, now estimated to be over 1 million, will not have a home to go back to once the earthquakes finally stop. As this number continues to grow, the unavoidable reality of natural disaster becomes more clear. While there’s often not much you can do to prevent it, it is still important to be cognizant of just how devastating disaster can be.