Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had declared a three month emergency across 10 provinces after the south-east of the country and northern Syria were rocked by an earthquake that has left more than 9,500 people dead.
In a televised statement on Tuesday (7 Feb), Erdogan said: “We have decided to declare a state of emergency to ensure that our [rescue and recovery] work can be carried out quickly.”
During his speech, Erdogan said that 70 countries around the world had offered up help in the search and rescue operations, and as promises of help flooded in, Turkey said it would only allow vehicles carrying aid to enter the worst-hit provinces of Kahramanmaras, Adiyaman and Hatay in order to speed the effort.
The United Nations said it was “exploring all avenues” to get supplies to rebel-held north-western Syria, where millions live in extreme poverty and rely on humanitarian aid to survive.
In 2022, British nationals made over 3.330 million visits to Turkey, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). As details of the earthquake and its effects continue to emerge, this is what you need to know if you have imminent plans to fly to the country.
What has the Foreign Office said?
Following the earthquake, the FCDO has said that it advises against all travel to “areas within 10km of the border with Syria”.
Updated on Tuesday (7 Feb), the FCDO states: “Turkey has announced a national emergency in the 10 provinces affected by earthquakes and announced that only vehicles which carry aid teams and aid material will be allowed to enter cities deemed to be inside the area of the disaster.”
It continues: “A 7.8 earthquake hit Gaziantep and neighbouring provinces in the south east of Turkey on 6 February 2023. On the same day a 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit the neighboring province of Kahramanmaras. There have been several strong after-shocks. The Turkish government has announced a national emergency in the 10 provinces affected by the earthquake.
“These are the provinces of Kahramanmaraş, Gaziantep, Malatya, Diyarbakır, Kilis, Şanlıurfa, Adıyaman, Hatay, Osmaniye, Adana. The Turkish Government has stated that only vehicles which carry aid teams and aid materials will be allowed to enter cities deemed to be inside the area of the disaster. If you are in Turkey or planning to travel there you should follow the information and advice from local authorities/your tour operator.”
The FCDO also advises against all but essential travel to Sirnak and the province of Hakkari.
Under its general travel advice in relation to Turkey, the FCDO says that “many parts of Turkey are subject to earthquakes and tremors” and that those looking to travel to the country should “familiarise yourself with safety procedures in the event of an earthquake”.
Have flights been cancelled?
As it stands, no airlines that serve the UK have announced cancellations in relation to their flights to Turkey following the earthquake. However, the Demiroren news agency has reported that Turkey’s Adana Airport has been closed until further notice - while there are no flights from the UK to Adana, it is served by domestic flights from tourism hubs in Bodrum and Istanbul.
Crisis24 has also reported that “authorities in Turkey have closed Hatay Airport (HTY) due to damage, while all civilian flights at Gaziantep International Airport (GZT) have been suspended” and that “operations at Ceyhan Port in Adana Province have also been suspended”.
Can I cancel my plane tickets?
If you’re looking to reschedule or cancel your flight, your options will depend on what airline you booked with, as each company will have different terms and conditions.
You should check in with your specific airline to discuss what is available to you in terms of potentially rescheduling or cancelling your flight.