Almost 8,000 people have been killed across Turkey and Syria after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on Feb. 6, 2023.
More than 38,000 injuries have been reported so far.
Understanding the impact of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake
The region sits at the meeting point of the Arabian, Anatolian and African tectonic plates.
As the plates move against each other, they build up friction and stress that gets released as earthquakes.
“One of the reasons why the number of casualties has been so high is the poor quality of the buildings,” said Mustafa Erdik, professor at Bogazici University’s Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute in Istanbul, in a comment to Al Jazeera.
Structural geology expert Chris Elders explains why the magnitude 7.8 earthquake in southeast Turkey and northern Syria has caused such devastation ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/68mrYeDGDS
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) February 6, 2023
Earthquakes are measured using seismographs, which monitor the seismic waves that travel through the earth after a quake.
The Richter Scale, which you may have learnt about in school, was previously used to measure earthquakes, but the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI) is now used instead.
For each whole number it rises, the amount of energy released by an earthquake increases by about 32 times.
A magnitude 1 quake would be a micro-earthquake which is either not, or rarely felt.
By 8, considerable damage would have been done to buildings, with partial collapse. Poorly built structures will sustain great damage.
To understand the scale of this quake, in a 2013 interview with The New York Times, Renato Solidum, the director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology described a magnitude 7 earthquake as having “an energy equivalent to around 32 Hiroshima atomic bombs.”
Following the initial quake, the US Geological Survey has recorded more than 100 aftershocks, with one measuring 7.5 that struck 95 kilometres north of the epicentre of the first.
Animated map of seismicity near Turkey quakes starting ~3am local time plotting Feb 6 M7.8 mainshock (pink), early aftershocks (orange), M7.5 aftershock to the north (tan), and subsequent aftershocks in the north (tan). Time vs. magnitude progression shown on bottom graph. pic.twitter.com/TTa7qdZWzO
— USGS Earthquakes (@USGS_Quakes) February 7, 2023
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Agency says that more than 5,700 buildings have collapsed since the quake.
The Guardian reports that the size of the earthquake makes it one of the most powerful in the region in at least a century, and was felt as far away as Cyprus and Cairo, Egypt.
CNN additionally reported that search and rescue efforts have been hampered by a “lack of heavy equipment and machinery to clear the rubble,” according to UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria.
The earthquake is the latest in a series of tragedies that have plagued the crisis-ridden region.
According to the United Nations, the region is home to around 4.1 million people who rely on humanitarian assistance, with the majority being women and children.
Syrian communities have also been affected by an ongoing cholera outbreak and a harsh winter with heavy rain and snow.
Where to donate to aid humanitarian efforts
Here are some organisations which are providing aid to the area:
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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is on the ground helping children and families.
You can donate to their efforts here.
2. Humanity & Inclusion
Humanity & Inclusion is focused on aiding seniors and people with disabilities.
Funds will go to physical and functional rehabilitation services, mental health services and the distribution of mobility aids such as wheelchairs, canes and walkers.
You can donate via their page here.
3. Turkish Red Crescent
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is a global humanitarian network of 80 million people that helps those facing disaster, conflict and health and social problems.
According to Britannica, The Red Cross is the name used in countries under nominally Christian sponsorship, while Red Crescent is the name used in Muslim countries.
You can donate via this page.
4. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
Doctors Without Borders, an independent neutral organisation offering medical humanitarian assistance, has mobilised with local partners to respond to the crisis.
You can donate to their cause here.
5. Global Giving
Global Giving, an organisation which supports other nonprofits by connecting them to donors and companies, has set up a Turkey and Syria Earthquake Relief Fund.
This will go to providing emergency relief and fuel long-term recovery efforts in Turkey and Syria.
You can donate via their website here.
6. Save the Children
The Children’s Emergency Fund by Save The Children will help give children urgent support to access food, shelter and warm clothing.
Save the Children is the first global movement for children which champion the rights of children.
Donate to the fund here.
Top image via Getty Images and @scienceprometheus/TikTok
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