Major quakes in Turkey and Syria: the worst in the countries' history?

Roxana Anton

More than 4300 deaths are confirmed in Turkey and Syria after the major quakes on Monday, says the Guardian.

The unexpected tragedy hit the two countries Monday morning. Entire buildings could not make it to the magnitude of 7,8 and 7,6 and just fell into pieces.

When you read this article, rescuers are searching for earthquake survivors in the mountains of rubble. (according to the Guardian)

"Many families are under the rubble, our team tries to save them, it's a very difficult test for us, we need help, we need the international community to do something to help us, to support us" - desperate Syrian civil defense from Northern Western Syria. (interview from the Guardian)

The epicenters of the two earthquakes were in Turkey, but the effects were devastating in both countries. They were 20 km from Elbistan/Kahramanmaras Province, in Turkey.

These events added even more disaster to the Syrian cities, already devastated by many years of war.

The White Helmets civil defense group asked for international help while many civils (it is believed thousands) are still trapped under the buildings that fell. (according to the Guardian)

There were also other countries affected by smaller replies to these earthquakes, such as Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Georgia, Armenia, and Romania.

In fact, in the past 24 hours, there was a shocking multitude of earthquakes in Turkey, as follows: 1 quake of magnitude 7.5, 2 quakes between 6.0 and 7.0, 18 quakes between 5.0 and 6.0, 146 quakes between 4.0 and 5.0, 281 quakes between 3.0 and 4.0, and 69 quakes between 2.0 and 3.0. There were also 6 quakes below magnitude 2.0 which people don't normally feel. (source:

What is the cause of all these quakes?

It could be two major fault lines along the Anatolian Plate. The initial magnitude 7.8 tremor on Monday morning, which was followed by a magnitude 7.6 quake hours later, had the same magnitude as the one that killed about 30,000 people in 1939 in northeastern Turkey, that being the country's worst earthquake ever.

(according to

“One of the reasons why the number of casualties has been so high is the poor quality of the buildings,” Mustafa Erdik, professor at Bogazici University’s Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute in Istanbul, told Al Jazeera. (according to

Turkey’s National Earthquake Strategy and Action Plan (PDF) for 2012 to 2023 highlighted how massive and rapid migration during the 1950s led to poorly supervised urban development, making cities “critically vulnerable” to natural hazards. More than 5,600 buildings across southeastern Turkey have collapsed, according to the country’s disaster agency. (

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