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Syria Today – Earthquake Wreaks Havoc on Already Bereaved Northern Syria

At least 2,300 people have been killed after two powerful earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria.
Syria Today – Earthquake Wreaks Havoc on Already Bereaved Northern Syria

At least 2,300 people have been killed after two powerful earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria within the space of 12 hours. The death toll is expected to rise, with search and rescue operations underway across the region as many buildings have collapsed, and there are thought to be many people trapped in the rubble.

Syria’s health ministry said that more than 430 people had been killed and 1,280 injured. In the country’s rebel-held northwest, where the government is not in control, groups that operate there said the death toll was at least 380, with many hundreds injured.

The first quake struck as people slept, and measured 7.8 in magnitude, one of the most powerful quakes in the region in at least a century. It was felt as far away as Cyprus and Cairo. The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said that preliminary data showed the second large quake measured 7.7 magnitudes and was 67km (42 miles) northeast of Kahramanmaraş, Turkey, at a depth of 2km. There have been more than 100 smaller aftershocks registered by seismologists.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has called for increased funding for humanitarian aid in Syria, saying that many people in the northwest of the country have already been displaced up to 20 times and that medical care in the region was “strained beyond capacity, even before this tragedy.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it was concerned about areas in Turkey from which there had been no news following the deadly overnight earthquake.

OCHA

The region of northwest Syria, which was impacted by the deadly earthquake on Monday, has 4.1 million people who rely on humanitarian assistance, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Monday.

The majority of these people are women and children and along with the devastation from the earthquake, Syrian communities are battling an ongoing cholera outbreak amid a harsh winter with heavy rain and snow over the weekend, OCHA said in its statement.

At least 326 dead in Syria

Ministry of Health stated that the death toll from the earthquake has amounted to 326 deaths and 1042 injuries in the provinces of Lattakia, Aleppo, Hama and Tartous, an infinite toll.

Assistant Health Minister Dr.Ahmad Damiriah told SANA in a statement that 4 trucks loaded with medicines, surgical and emergency supplies were sent to Aleppo, Lattakia and Hama, in addition to sending medical convoys from the health directorates of Damascus, Damascus Countryside, Quneitra, Homs and Tartous to the provinces of Aleppo and Lattakia.

Twenty-eight ambulances and seven mobile clinics were sent from Damascus and Damascus Countryside, Quneitra, Homs and Tartous to support Aleppo and Lattakia.

Dr. Damiriah pointed out that the management of medical convoys in the provinces is carried out in a form of ambulances and mobile clinics with their medical cadres, including emergency and surgical supplies and medicines and sent to the affected areas.

Assad chairs the emergency meeting of the Cabinet.

President Bashar al-Assad chaired an emergency meeting of the Cabinet on Monday to discuss the damage of the earthquake, which hit the country, and the necessary procedures.

The meeting assessed the current primary situation following the strong earthquake. The most damaged provinces and sites have been identified, which have concentrated mainly in Aleppo, Hama and Lattakia provinces.

Based on reality, an emergency nationwide action plan has been set and led by a 24-hour central operations room and field teams on the ground.

A set of urgent steps has been instructed, including:

-All concerned ministries, institutions and authorities to be put on the alert.

-All teams and capabilities of civil defence, firefighting, health, public construction companies and their branches in the provinces, all service institutions and public services departments to be put on alert to carry out life-saving and rubble removal operations.

-All governors have been directed to mobilize all potentials of the public and private sectors and mobilize all vehicles to carry out rescue operations and contribute to removing the rubble.

-Providing urgent health care for all the injured in various provinces and mobilizing all medical cadres in the Ministries of Health, Defense and Higher Education.

-It was also directed to secure shelters urgently and food for those affected and secure oil derivatives to supply the emergency technical operations in the affected provinces.

–Instructing the Internal Trade Ministry to provide the necessary foodstuffs for the shelters and affected people and mobilize its cadres to perform this task accurately and quickly.

-Instructing the technical safety teams to assess the condition of the cracked buildings, set a description of their technical condition, and evacuate them from the residents in case of danger.

-The Water resources were tasked with quickly detecting damages in dams, reservoirs and water stations and ensuring their safety and the continuity of water access to citizens.

(Photo by OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP via Getty Images)

President Assad instructed the concerned ministers to head to the provinces to directly supervise the operation rooms and mobilize all available capabilities in the provinces to deal with this ordeal.

In parallel, the Central Operations Room in Damascus follows all developments and takes the necessary measures to support the operations rooms in the provinces.

The Central Operations Rooms in Damascus is headed by the Prime Minister and members of the Minister of Local Administration, the Secretary General of Cabinet, and the relevant ministers.

International assistance

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered condolences to President Bashar al-Assad over the devastating earthquake victims, stressing Russia’s readiness to help address repercussions.

“I would like to extend my sincere condolences for the tragic consequences of the earthquake that struck the northern regions of Syria,” Putin said in a cable published on the Kremlin website today.

“We share the sorrow and pain of those who lost their relatives and loved ones,” Putin added.

Even the U.S. has expressed support in a tweet by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

UAE

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan stressed the United Arab Emirates, leadership and people, support and solidarity with Syria due to the destructive earthquake.

During a phone call with President Bashar al-Assad, UAE President offered sincere condolences over the death of hundreds of people, expressing his country’s readiness to help the Syrian people surpass the plight’s impacts.

China

China has expressed its readiness to send urgent humanitarian assistance to Syria to face the effects of the earthquake that hit it on Monday dawn.

“Beijing is ready to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to Syria according to the needs,” Xinhua news agency quoted a spokesman for the China International Development Cooperation Agency, Xu Wei, as saying on Monday.

China expresses its sympathies and concerns over the casualties and property losses caused by the earthquake in Syria, Xu said, noting that his country is in communication with it.

Egypt & Saudi Arabia

Egypt and Saudi Arabia expressed their sincere condolences and solidarity with Syria.

Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed in a statement on Monday its country’s readiness to provide assistance in facing the effects of this horrific disaster, wishing a speedy recovery for the injured.

In turn, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the Kingdom is closely following the course of the unfortunate events in the Syrian Arab Republic following the earthquake, which claimed hundreds of lives.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry expressed the Kingdom’s solidarity, sympathy, and condolences to the brothers in Syria, wishing a speedy recovery for the injured.

Algeria

The Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs offered its sincere condolences to the government and people of Syria and to the victims’ families due to the devastating earthquake that hit it on Monday, causing losses of lives, property and infrastructure.

Algeria, which shares the pain of this sore disaster with its brothers in the Syrian Arab Republic, affirms its full solidarity and expresses its aspiration to overcome this ordeal with much determination and steadfastness, the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Lebanon

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates in Lebanon expressed its deep sympathy and solidarity with the brotherly Syrian Arab Republic regarding the catastrophe caused by the huge earthquake that hit Syria on Monday dawn, claiming the lives of hundreds of victims and a large number of injured, in addition to the collapse and cracking of hundreds of residential buildings.

In a statement, the Ministry offered its deepest condolences to the government, the people of Syria, and the victims’ families, wishing a speedy recovery for the injured.

The ministry expressed Lebanon’s readiness to lend a helping hand to Syria in facing the repercussions.

Israel 

The Times of Israel has quoted the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu as saying that his country will be sending aid to Turkey, but also Syria as they deal with the effects of the earthquake.

This comes despite Syria and Israel being enemy states and having no diplomatic relations. Netanyahu said that Israel had received requests through diplomatic channels to assist Syria, probably from Russia.

On the other hand, officials from Syria have denied Netanyahu’s claim, according to Reuters.

Diaspora

Syrians all around the globe are trying to find venues to help their devastated people in their homeland.

The Syrian-American community has been holding around-the-clock meetings in person and online to see how they can help.

The American Coalition for Syria has been in contact with the Biden administration and American rescue mission to seek help.

In Europe, several Syrian groups are collecting money and aids to send to Syria.

The interim government declares northwest Syria a disaster area

In northern Syria, the Interim Syrian Government has declared the region a disaster zone after the destructive earthquake and is appealing to international and humanitarian organizations for assistance.

Baladi News reported a statement from the Interim Syrian Government declaring northern Syria a disaster area after an earthquake hit the region. The government calls for immediate aid from international and humanitarian organizations, as the affected areas face dire humanitarian conditions.

The statement added that the interim government activated all of its agencies, bodies and the national army to be on high alert, with the aim of providing maximum assistance to mitigate the impact and aftermath of the disaster.

White Helmets reveal terrifying preliminary toll

The number of deaths and injuries rose to more than 400 people in northwestern Syria due to the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria at dawn on Monday, February 6.

According to the official accounts of the White Helmets, an initial tally reveals that over 120 civilians have lost their lives, and over 230 others have been injured in the Idleb governorate and the countryside of Aleppo.

The White Helmets reported that the death toll would likely rise significantly as hundreds of families remain trapped under rubble from the Monday morning earthquake. The organization’s teams are vigilant to responding and rescuing those in need.

The White Helmets declared the northwestern region of Syria a complete disaster area and called on all local authorities and civil forces to mobilize their cadres.

The White Helmets declared the northwestern region of Syria a complete disaster area and called on all local authorities and civil forces to mobilize their cadres.

Reassuring on tsunami fears

The director of the National Center for Seismology in Syria assured the public that there is no reason to fear a tsunami following the earthquake, despite the receding waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

According to SANA, the director stated that the main earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.7, occurred in the land area north of the Iskenderun district, not in the sea. Thus, there is no evidence of a tsunami contrary to popular belief.

The possibility of another series of earthquakes in the coming period

The Athr Press website reported that the region might experience another series of earthquakes in the coming period as it is situated in a geopolitical configuration that facilitates their occurrence. However, these earthquakes are expected to be moderate to small and will not reach the level of large, catastrophic earthquakes. It is important to pay attention to aftershocks, which may pose more danger than the initial earthquake. Additionally, the report dismissed the likelihood of a significant tsunami in the coastal area for two scientific reasons.

Dr. Ibrahim Saeed, a Professor of Geography at the University of Damascus, explained that the Levant region, stretching from Africa to Anatolia, is situated on the Arab-African rift zone, which spans 6,000 kilometres. The western part of Syria is located on the western portion of this rift, encompassing the Syrian coast, Lebanon, Palestine, Iskenderun, and Adana.

Dr. Saeed stated that the western portion of the fault line is weaker due to the lighter weight, size, and area of its rocks compared to the eastern part, which is comprised of the Arabian plate that encompasses the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula. As a result, earthquakes have a greater impact on the western part, leading to frequent alterations.

He explained that the potential changes to the western rift are due to the collision between the large rock plates and plates of the Arab plate beneath the ground with the Asian rock plate. He pointed out that collision zones are known to experience earthquakes and have weaker points.

A thousand years ago

According to Dr. Saeed, a very large earthquake with a magnitude of 8-9 is a rare occurrence globally. However, he mentions that the city of Aleppo was hit by such an earthquake in 1138, resulting in the death of over 240,000 people, making it the fourth-largest earthquake in recorded history at the time.

Aftershocks may be more impactful.

Regarding the nature and degree of impact of aftershocks of earthquakes, the professor noted that aftershocks of earthquakes can potentially have a more significant impact on buildings and infrastructure than the initial quake. He explained that the first seismic wave could cause damage and create cracks in buildings, leaving them vulnerable to collapse during aftershocks. As a result, it is essential to exercise caution around cracked buildings and avoid entering them.

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