By: Kristen Hegel
This past Sunday, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake shook the country ofTurkey. The original quake, plus the multiple aftershocks felt throughout the day, left multiple cities and villages in ruins. Dozens of buildings were turned into rubble, and roughly 138 people were killed and hundreds more were injured.
According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake struck the mountainous eastern region ofTurkeyat 1:41 p.m. The epicenter of the quake was in the smallvillageofTabanli, 10 miles outside of the highly populated city ofVan. Thousands of people ran into the streets to get out of buildings and stay clear of debris. Citizens soon took it upon themselves to search through the rubble for survivors.
The city ofErcisthat lies on a quake-prone zone is believed to have the most damage. Over 80 buildings in the city collapsed, one of which was a student dormitory. It is reported that there is currently not enough machinery to remove the layers of cement that have caved in. Residents have been digging through the remains of the buildings with their bare hands and shovels in search of their loved ones. According to witnesses, only eight survivors were rescued from the debris.
“There are so many dead. Several buildings have collapsed. There is too much destruction,” Zulfikar Arapoglu, the mayor of Ercis, said. “We need urgent aid. We need medics.” Considering the infrastructure of the areas affected and the magnitude of the earthquake, Turkish scientists believe that the death toll could easily reach 1,000 victims. “We are estimating a death toll between 500 and 1,000,” Mustafa Erdik, head ofTurkey’s main seismography center said.
In the neighboring district of Velebibag, many casualties were reported, along with a lot of damage. “There are many people under the rubble,” Veysel Keser, mayor of Celebibag, stated. “People are in agony, we can hear their screams for help. We need urgent help.” Celebibag said that many buildings, hotels and gas stations had collapsed. Many residents in highly populated areas fled to surrounding villages to take refuge. Though not much is known about the damage and casualties in remote villages, it was reported that the government sent out tents, makeshift kitchens, blankets and other supplies.
Other countries have pledged to assistTurkeyin their recovery. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the brave men and women who are working to bring assistance to this stricken region. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Turkish ally in this difficult time, and are ready to assist the Turkish authorities,” President Obama stated.
The earthquake was felt in neighboring countries, even causing minor damage inArmeniaandIran. Though Turkey experiences frequent earthquakes, Sunday’s quake, along with the aftershocks, took the people by surprise and caused substantial damage throughout the northeastern region. Not only did it leave buildings damaged, but it left many families damaged and took many lives.