Hundreds killed as massive earthquake strikes southeast Turkiye and Syria

A massive earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale has hit southeastern Turkiye and Syria in the early hours of this morning, causing widespread destruction that has killed at least 600 people, with thousands more injured or left homeless.

The epicentre of the quake was near the city of Gaziantep in Kahramanmaraş province. Strong tremors were also felt in 10 provinces in Turkiye’s east, south  southeast and northeast regions, as well as in Syria, Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan.

The quake struck at 04:17 local time (01:17 UK), when most people in the country would have been deep in sleep.

Media pictures show scenes of utter devastation in the affected areas, after multiple buildings collapsed, trapping people under tons of rubble.

Fatalities have been reported in Kahramanmaraş, Malatya, Adıyaman, Diyarbakır, Şanlıurfa, Osmaniye, Adana, Kilis and Hatay.

An update from Turkish officials at 10am local time said some 1,710 buildings had collapsed following the earthquake with at least 284 people killed.

Süleyman Soylu, Turkiye’s Interior Minister has said emergency rescue teams have been dispatched, to the earthquake-affected regions, with the military and cargo planes carrying urgent supplies. The minister also said the country is ready to accept international aid to help with the search and rescue mission.

A state of emergency has been declared, and the Turkish Red Crescent has called on Turks nationwide to donate blood, as the country undertakes a massive rescue operation.


The situation over the border in Syrian is equally severe. State media have reported that more than 240 people have been reported killed and hundreds more injured in the northern provinces of Aleppo, which lies 120 km south of Gaziantep, as well as Hama and Latakia.

The country has been ravaged by over a decade of civil war, with the affected areas packed with around 4 million displaced Syrians, many of them already struggling to access the limited healthcare facilities and forced to leave in dilapidated buildings impacted from years of past bombardment.

One Syrian, researcher Rim Turkmani, tweeted that she was still unable to reach her relatives in Aleppo, while a quarter of one town near to Aleppo, Jandaris, had been completely destroyed.

“My family in #Homs & #Damascus are fine but some of my relatives from #Aleppo still not answering messages. The devastation is collossal. 25% of the town of Jandaris in the countryside of Aleppo is on the ground with few first responders or equipment #earthquake #Syria #Turkey”.

Rim Turkmani’s comments were echoed by Syrian civil defence group The White Helmets, who reported on the fatalities in nearby Idlib.

International aid

The British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was among the first to extend his condolences to the two countries and offer help.

“My thoughts are with the people of Türkiye and Syria this morning, particularly with those first responders working so valiantly to save those trapped by the earthquake. The UK stands ready to help in whatever way we can,” the PM tweeted.

A statement from the White House confirms President Biden has also instructed the US to offer urgent assistance to both countries.

The EU bloc has also come forward with promises of help Turkey and Syria in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. Josep Borrell, the EU’s most senior diplomat, tweeted:

“Devastating earthquake rocked Turkey and Syria this morning, claiming the lives of hundreds of people and injuring many more. Our thoughts are with the people of Turkey and Syria. The EU is ready to help.”