Turkey weather: how temperatures are affecting earthquake rescue - forecast and winter conditions explained

Along with the devastating earthquake, Turkey is also experiencing heavy winter weather which is delaying the rescue in some areas

Snow, rain and freezing temperatures have damped rescue efforts after the deadly earthquake which has killed at least 16,000 people across Turkey and Syria, leading officials to fear the weather will cause a secondary disaster for victims.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit parts of Turkey and Syria on 6 February 2023. Shocking footage from the incident saw full buildings collapse to the ground while survivors ran to safety.

The heartbreaking scenes have shown officials and loved ones attempt to save friends and family from the rubble left behind by the quake. However, wintery conditions have left them struggling to facilitate the rescue.

What is the weather like in Turkey right now?

The city of Gaziantep, the epicentre of the earthquake, is currently experiencing temperatures reaching freezing. The city has been recording temperatures around minus five degrees celcius overnight. On top of this, snow has fallen in the region, which has made visibility poor.

The temperatures across the region remain cold, with the highest being around six degrees celcius. This has led to authorities stating that they are in a “race against time” to find surviors.

Below-freezing temperatures, rain and snow has hindered rescue efforts in Turkey. (Credit: Getty Images)Below-freezing temperatures, rain and snow has hindered rescue efforts in Turkey. (Credit: Getty Images)
Below-freezing temperatures, rain and snow has hindered rescue efforts in Turkey. (Credit: Getty Images)

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), said of the search operation: “It’s now a race against time. Every minute, every hour that passes, the chances of finding survivors alive diminishes.”

What impact is it having on earthquake rescue and recovery operations?

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged some problems with the speed of the Government’s emergency response to Monday’s quakes, but said the winter weather had been a factor.

WHO’s earthquake response incident manager Robert Holden said both the weather and the earthquakes themselves had also caused major disruptions to water, fuel, and electricity supplies, and to communications infrastructure. The earthquake also destroyed the runway at Hatay’s airport in Turkey, further disrupting the response.

“We’ve got a lot of people who’ve survived now out in the open, in worsening and horrific conditions,” he said. Tens of thousands of people across the affected areas are thought to have lost their homes.

“We are in real danger of seeing a secondary disaster, which may cause harm to more people than the initial disaster, if we don’t move with the same pace and intensity as we are doing on the search and rescue side.”

What happened in Turkey and Syria?

The earthquake struck early morning on Monday 6 February. It hit the border between Turkey and Syria, with the Turkish city of Gaziantep the nearest to the quake’s epicentre.

The quake measured 7.8 on the richter scale, making it tied for first as the strongest earthquake to ever hit Turkey. After it hit, the affected areas were subjected to several powerful aftershocks.

The death toll was staggering - at least 16,000 people died as a result of the quake.

President Erdogan has declared a state of emergency which is due to last three months in order to cope with rescue efforts. He also told reporters it is believed that around 13 million people in Turkey have been impacted in some way by the event.

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