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Magnitude 7.8 Earthquake Kills More Than 2 300 People In Turkey, Syria

Magnitude 7.8 Earthquake Kills More Than 2 300 People In Turkey, Syria

More than 2 300 people have been killed and thousands others injured by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake, followed by a magnitude 7.5 tremor, in Turkey and Syria.

The earthquakes have killed at least 1 498 people in Turkey, with another 810 confirmed fatalities in Syria, putting that toll at 2 308, reported Al Jazeera.

The death toll is expected to rise as experts warn that aftershocks could continue for days or weeks.

The earthquake occurred at 4:17 AM (01:17 GMT), with its epicentre in Kahramanmaras in Gaziantep province, about 33km (20 miles) from the capital city of Gaziantep.

The city is home to more than two million people, including hundreds of thousands of Syrians who fled during the country’s war, which began in 2011.

According to the US Geological Survey agency, the area contains many buildings constructed of brick masonry or brittle concrete, making them “extremely vulnerable to earthquake shaking”.

The earthquake was about 50km (31 miles) from the border of northwest Syria, where about 1.7 million internally displaced Syrians live in a cluster of camps.

The area is controlled by opposition groups still fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Several large government-controlled cities, including Aleppo, with a dense population of nearly 2 million, are located in the area.

The Syrian Civil Defence, a rescue group operating in the opposition-held portions of northern Syria, declared a state of emergency and appealed to the international community to support Syrians.

More than 40 aftershocks were felt after the initial quake, including one with a magnitude of 7.5 that hit at 1:24 PM (10:24 GMT) four kilometres (2.5 miles) south-southeast of the town of Ekinozu.

Chris Elders, professor at the School of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, told Al Jazeera that the depth of the earthquake, at about 18km (11 miles) deep, made the incident particularly devastating. He said:

… the energy that’s released by the earthquake will be felt quite close to the surface with much greater intensity than if it was deeper in the crust.

Meanwhile, Nilüfer Aslan, a resident of Nadana in Turkey, told BBC News that she was certain her family would die when the quake shook their fifth-floor apartment. She said:

I have never seen anything like this in my life. We swayed for close to one minute.

[I said to my family] ‘There is an earthquake, at least let’s die together in the same place’… It was the only thing that crossed my mind.

Ismail Al Abdullah – a rescuer from Syrian humanitarian group White Helmets – has been working in Sarmada, near the border with Turkey, rescuing survivors. He said:

Many buildings in different cities and villages in north-western Syria collapsed, destroyed by this earthquake.

We need help. We need the international community to do something, to help us, to support us.

North-western Syria is now a disaster area. We need help from everyone to save our people.

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