Death toll rises to 1200 and counting after two earthquakes rock Türkiye and Syria

More than 1,200 people have been killed after an earthquake devastated an area of central Türkiye and north-west Syria in the early hours of Monday morning.

The earthquake struck on Sunday and was measured at a magnitude of 7.8, reducing buildings to rubble as people slept in their beds and sparking a desperate search for survivors. Türkiye’s AFAD, The Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, confirmed a second earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 struck after 10:30 GMT with the city of Kahramanmaras at its epicenter.

Experts say the epicentre of the earthquake was near the Turkish city of Gazintep, 90 kilometers from the Syrian border, but millions of people in Turkiye, Syria, Lebanon and Cyprus felt its force and the subsequent aftershocks.  

Turkiye’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has confirmed that more than 900 people have been killed in Türkiye alone, while a further 5,383 people have been wounded.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, has estimated that the death toll in Syria currently stands at 320.

In a short statement on Twitter Erdogan said: “I convey my best wishes to all our citizens who were affected by the earthquake.”

It was Türkiye’s most severe quake since 1999, when one of similar magnitude devastated Izmit and the heavily populated eastern Marmara Sea region near Istanbul, killing more than 17,000.

The location of the earthquake is a vulnerable region called the East Anatolian fault, which runs south-west to north-west of the south-eastern border of Türkiye.

Seismologists have previously warned of the dangers of the fault line, but there hasn’t been a significant earthquake for more than 100 years.

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