More Than 2,700 Killed After Massive Earthquakes Hit Turkey and Syria

Videos showed people running out of apartment blocks as the first quake hit the city of Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey. A second quake hit just hours later.
turkey earthquake gaziantep
A member of the White Helmets, carries a child rescued from the rubble in Zardana, Syria. PHOTO: ABDULAZIZ KETAZ/AFP via Getty Images

At least 2,700 people have died after a powerful earthquake struck the border region between southern Turkey and northern Syria in the early hours of Monday, leaving a trail of destruction and a growing number of casualties. A second quake struck the country around 9 hours later, with many people still trapped under the rubble of the first. 

The first quake’s epicentre was near the city of Gaziantep in southern Turkey. Videos shared on social media showed buildings collapsing and people rushing into the streets. 


According to the US Geological Survey, the first, 7.8 magnitude earthquake occurred at 04:17 local time with a depth of 17 km near Gaziantep in southeast Turkey. 

At 13.12 PM, a second, 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit Turkey’s southeastern province of Kahramanmaras, sparking fears that the death toll will rise dramatically. As rescue teams searched for survivors in the rubble, casualties were expected to rise.

Over 66 aftershocks of the first earthquake have been felt, forcing thousands of people onto the streets in freezing temperatures in case more buildings collapse.

Turkish officials said that 1,762 people had died, with 7,600 injured. Meanwhile, in northern Syria, state media reported some 430 deaths and 1,280 people injured, with the government in Damascus declaring a state of emergency in the affected areas. The White Helmets reported 380 people have died in the rebel-held areas of Idlib in northwest Syria.

The earthquake also caused widespread damage to buildings and apartments, with reports of whole families trapped under the rubble.

As rescue teams searched for survivors in the rubble, casualties were expected to rise. The earthquake was felt across a wide area, including neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Cyprus, and parts of Iraq.


Turkey is located in one of the most active earthquake lines in the world, and the country has suffered from frequent earthquakes over the past. The last major earthquake to hit the country was in October 2011, which killed 604 people and injured over 4,152.

The international community rushed to express condolences and offer support to Turkey. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wrote in a tweet, “Greece is mobilising its resources and will assist immediately.”

Erdogan said more than 45 countries have reached out to help Turkey in rescue missions, which were continuing in 10 provinces in the southern regions. 

Local aid and rescue organisations have already mobilised to assist those affected. The extent of the damage is expected to become clearer over the coming days. 

The harsh winter weather is likely to hinder rescue efforts. Temperatures in some areas have dropped to below -6 C (21 F) and been hit by snow.