Catastrophic Earthquake Ravages Türkiye and Syria


A 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated Southeast Türkiye and Syria in the early hours of Monday, Feb. 6.  The death toll has now topped 45,000, with about 84% of the deaths being Turkish residents.

Türkiye is no stranger to Earthquakes, and the Eurasian country has seen many before. But this one was the worst the country has seen in almost a century, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Both of the countries have been struggling to find any hope in the calamitous aftermath of the natural disaster, and their respective governments have been under public scrutiny. Syria has been in a civil war since 2011 and their country has offered very little aide in assisting with the earthquake. Erdogan of Türkiye has been criticized for his response and efficiency.

Lucy Latham ’23, was shocked at the Turkish Government.

“[Erdoğan] didn’t give any statements or send any help for about 8 hours after the earthquake,” said Lucy, who is of Turkish descent.

According to TIME Magazine, “The Turkish government has received criticism for its disaster response – or lack thereof. In the hours following the catastrophe, there were no military forces sent to affected areas, leaving people to fend for themselves,” they reported.  “Several residents reportedly attempted to get in contact with Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, but were unable to do so successfully.”

A Turkish student studying at the University of Massachusetts who wished to stay anonymous shared how the response time affected the death toll significantly.

“The government failed to address the issue of law and order which could lead to violent and social unrest in the affected areas,” the student said. “They could have saved five to six times more people if they acted quickly. They failed and prolonged suffering for affected individuals.”

Syria was already in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, and the devastation of the massive earthquake left the country in shambles. Many agencies were hesitant to get involved due to the political unrest in the nation currently.  The United Nations (UN) has been trying to send as much aid as they can, and just this past weekend (Feb. 18-19), Doctors Without Borders was able to cross the country lines.

“In Southeastern Türkiye there is no need to sleep on the street because there is no house to worry about collapsing, it’s already gone,” Lucy, who has family Türkiye, said. “My cousin, Zeynep [and her husband Vedat] had three friends survive, but one lost both of their parents when their building collapsed.”

Into late last week survivors were being found dehydrated, exhausted and bloody. Rescue workers have been pushing up to 100 hours at a time searching in the rubble.

The anonymous individual lives in Malatya which was struck by the earthquakes.

“Inadequate distribution of resources such as food, water and medical supplies is also a sign of poor organization and coordination which further exacerbates the suffering of the affected population,” they said. “The government also failed to provide adequate temporary shelter for those who have lost their homes, leaving people exposed to the elements and vulnerable to health risks.  [Feb. 20] is the 15th day after the earthquakes but there are still counties [and] villages that required help [that have] not been reached.”

 UPDATE: At 8pm local time on Monday, Feb. 20, a devastating 6.4 magnitude earthquake  ripped through Southeast Türkiye and Syria. The death toll currently sits at three.

To help the people of Türkiye and Syria who are in a time of crisis, consider donating to any of the websites on the document below.

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