Two massive earthquakes have wreaked havoc in South-Eastern Turkey and Syria today leaving over 4000 confirmed dead at the time of this report, and thousands of others facing severe injuries, homelessness and other adversities following the tectonic events.
The first earthquake struck early Monday morning, about 4:17 am and registered a striking 7.8 on the Richter scale at a depth of 11 miles underground.
Reports from survivors are that the violent shaking lasted two minutes before dying down.
Seismologists say this was one of the strongest earthquakes to hit Turkey in recorded history.
The second massive earthquake hit 12 hours later, from an epicentre slightly North of the first. This earthquake registered 7.5 on the Richter Scale.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority has since confirmed that the two incidents were independent of each other, clarifying that the second earthquake was not an aftershock of the first, although there have been many aftershocks felt.
As rescuers brave freezing temperatures to comb through rubble and snow in search of survivors and bodies, the World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that the death toll from the events is likely to increase as much as eight times the current amount.
To that end, WHO’s Senior Emergency Officer for Europe, Catherine Smallwood told AFP news “We always see the same thing with earthquakes, unfortunately, which is that the initial reports of numbers of people who have died or who have been injured will increase quite significantly in the week that follows”.
Smallwood also noted that outdoor conditions in the affected area adds to the dangers as many persons are without shelter.
Many of the Syria based victims are believed to be refugees who lived in camps on both sides of the border with Turkey.
Infrastructure on both sides of the border have also taken a significant blow with several buildings failing to hold up to the force of the earthquakes.
Massive structures, some up to 12 stories high, were reduced to rubble in a matter of minutes.
Among buildings destroyed was the historic Gaziantep Castle which stood for more than 2000 years.