“On Monday, February 6, an earthquake with a deadly 7.8 magnitude struck eastern Turkey and northern Syria. The quake, which had been the first major earthquake to impact the area in about 200 years, has left over 40,000 people dead. Nearly 85 million people have been impacted by the quake, which has destroyed around 7,000 buildings, including homes, businesses, schools, and hospitals. To make matters worse, the freezing temperatures in the region have complicated rescue efforts and made it difficult for the more than 68,000 people injured to receive and respond to medical treatment.
The earthquake took place during the early hours of the morning, which played a role in intensifying the disaster’s death toll: When it happened, most people were asleep in their homes. Furthermore, the initial quake was followed by a series of aftershocks, one of which was nearly as strong as the main one. To put this into perspective: The highest, more severe ranking that an earthquake can have on Richter Scale is an 8, and this one was a 7.8.
Because it’s been so long since this region has experienced an earthquake so severe, Turkey’s emergency services have struggled to respond to the hundreds of thousands of people in immediate need. The region’s infrastructure, unaccustomed to this particular type of severe emergency, was also not set up to deal with the aftermath. And to make matters even worse, Syria remains embroiled in a long, brutal civil war, and the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (along with the Russian government’s decision to veto border opening borders in northwestern Syria to enable foreign aid) has made it difficult, if not impossible, for humanitarian efforts to reach Syrians in need.