Turkey earthquake: map of earthquakes in south Turkey and Syria, where is Gaziantep, where was the earthquake?

The earthquake is thought to be the largest ever recorded in Turkey, and has claimed thousands of lives

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake that slammed southern Turkey and northern Syria has claimed nearly 5,000 lives. The death toll is expected to rise as rescuers sift through debris and rubble in villages and cities around the region.

Residents were woken from their sleep on Monday (6 February) by the early morning earthquake, and raced into streets and towards open areas away from buildings as structures were levelled. The earthquake shook buildings for about 40 seconds.

At least 20 aftershocks followed, some hours later during daylight, with the strongest measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale. Rescuers have spent the night combing through mountains of concrete and metal in search of survivors. A second earthquake, with a 7.5 magnitude, also hit central Turkey at around 13:30 local time (10:30 GMT).

The earthquakes struck opposition controlled areas of Syria, home to some four million people displaced from other parts of the nation by its long civil war. Raed Salah, the head of the White Helmets, the emergency organisation in opposition-held regions of Syria, said that in some places, entire neighbourhoods had collapsed.

Here is everything you need to know.

Where did the earthquake strike?

Rescue workers and volunteers pull out a survivor from the rubble in Diyarbakir (Photo: ILYAS AKENGIN/AFP via Getty Images)Rescue workers and volunteers pull out a survivor from the rubble in Diyarbakir (Photo: ILYAS AKENGIN/AFP via Getty Images)
Rescue workers and volunteers pull out a survivor from the rubble in Diyarbakir (Photo: ILYAS AKENGIN/AFP via Getty Images)

The epicentre of the earthquake was located about 20 miles outside the city of Gaziantep, a significant Turkish provincial capital roughly 60 miles from the Syrian border.

But the earthquake - felt as far away as Cairo in Egypt - has caused widespread destruction across a wide area of the region, with buildings reported collapsed in a cross-border region extending from Syria’s cities of Aleppo and Hama to Turkey’s Diyarbakir, more than 200 miles to the north-east.

Gaziantep’s most famed landmark, its historic castle built on a hill in the middle of the city, was severely damaged. Images from the city showed that portions of the fortress’s walls and watch towers had been levelled, while other portions had sustained significant damage.

In the Turkish city of Adana, buildings were completely destroyed, while further east in Diyarbakir, cranes and rescue crews pulled people on stretchers out of what had once been an apartment complex, but was now a mountain of pancaked concrete floors.

The region hit by the earthquake, which was felt as far away as Cairo in Egypt, has been shaped by Syria’s civil war for more than ten years. Turkey is home to millions of Syrian refugees, and the region of Syria that was impacted by the earthquake is split between areas under the control of the government and the country’s last opposition-held enclave, which is encircled by government forces with Russian support.

(Image: NationalWorld)(Image: NationalWorld)
(Image: NationalWorld)

Centred on the province of Idlib, the region has been under bombardment from frequent Russian and government airstrikes for years, and now faces fresh difficulties as a result of the earthquake. The territory depends on a flow of aid from nearby Turkey for everything from food to medical supplies.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter that “search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched” to the areas hit by the quake. “We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage,” he wrote.

How many people have died?

At least 912 people were killed in 10 Turkish provinces, with more than 5,400 injured, according to Turkey’s president.

The death toll in government-held areas of Syria climbed to 326 people, with some 1,000 injured, according to the health ministry.

In rebel-held areas, at least 150 people were killed, according to the White Helmets, though the SAMS medical organisation put the toll at 106. Both said hundreds were hurt.

Is it Turkey’s most deadly earthquake?

Turkey sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes. The majority of the nation is situated on the Anatolian tectonic plate, which is sandwiched between the Eurasian and African tectonic plates, and the Arabian tectonic plate. Turkey is effectively squeezed when the two huge plates shift, experts say.

Monday’s earthquake took place along the East Anatolian fault, which extends south-west to north-west of the south-eastern border of Turkey. Although there hasn't been much activity along the fault in over a century, seismologists have long recognised that it is extremely dangerous because it has previously been the source of earthquakes that have caused substantial damage.

On 13 August 1882, it triggered an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4. Though that magnitude is considerably lower than the 7.8 magnitude measured today, the earthquake caused significant damage to nearby towns, and 7,000 fatalities were reported in Aleppo. Damaging aftershocks persisted for almost a year.

Other seismic events to have rocked Turkey include a powerful earthquake in 1999, which measure 7.6 on the Richter scale and kiled 18,000 people. 60 years earlier, 30,000 people were killed in another 7.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred in north-eastern Turkey in December 1939.

According to Stephen Hicks, a seismologist at University College London, Monday’s earthquake may be the largest to ever strike Turkey.

How is the UK helping?

The UK is to send search-and-rescue support and equipment to Turkey. As details of the earthquake emerged, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and many other world leaders said they were ready to offer any help required.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the Government would be “sending immediate support”, with a team of 76 search-and-rescue specialists, equipment and four search dogs being sent to Turkey.

A team of British search-and-rescue specialists heading to Turkey will leave the UK “imminently”, a Government minister has since said. A flight had been scheduled to leave Birmingham on Monday (6 February) night, carrying personnel and equipment to help with relief efforts.