Turkey and Syria face deadly earthquake

Elizabeth Montiel-Alvarado, Campus Carrier staff writer

On Feb. 6, a deadly earthquake measured at 7.8 magnitude struck southern and central Turkey as well as northwest Syria. Following the earthquake, there were multiple aftershocks reaching 6.7 and 7.5 magnitudes.

One week following the event, the total number of deaths has been counted at 40,000 people, with the number increasing as rescue efforts are made. In Turkey and Syria, this has been said to be the most powerful earthquake in 80 years. The current death count is twice that of the earthquake in 1999 which killed 17,000 people. 

According to the New York Times, nine contractors have been arrested and charged for construction that violated building codes. Approximately 41,791 buildings in Turkey collapsed following the aftershocks. Numerous casualties and injuries occurred as a consequence of the rubble from the buildings in the impact zones. A number of people were hit by the flying rubble or were trapped under the loads of concrete and remnants of the buildings. 

After the 1999 earthquake, Turkey issued stricter building codes and regulations to make sure the people would be safe in case of another disaster. Residents have said that the codes were often not enforced so contractors can save money by cutting corners. Many contractors were instead choosing to use other methods like mixing the concrete and buying cheaper materials, in order to go around these codes. 

“It sounds like it was an area where earthquakes were relatively common, but it sounds like they were not building things the way they were supposed to in some cases,” Zachary Taylor, associate professor of environmental studies said. 

In natural disasters there is the mention of a second disaster following the event. This is said to be the hardships the community experiences resulting from the natural disaster. 

“The other problem is that you have all of these people that do not have homes, water, electricity, or any of the stuff that you need to live,” Taylor said. 

Rescue efforts are very critical in these cases because of the uncertainty of how long people can withstand difficult living conditions. Many relief organizations say the first 72 hours after a natural disaster are the most crucial time. 

Recently eight people buried under rubble were rescued. They had been stuck for a week now, which is when rescue efforts begin to decline. Five more people have been rescued in the efforts, despite declining conditions. 

Turkey is a major agricultural producer, with their agricultural economy being among the top ten in the world. There may be some major effects on their exports and production following the earthquake. Much of their land was covered with rubble and many towns were leveled. 

“The ports, rails, roads, and canals get damaged so that stuff is not working properly. That can have real consequences for exports and things like that,” Taylor said. 

With both countries continuing clean-up and rescue efforts, they are also receiving help from outside organizations and countries. The United Nations had launched a $397 million appeal for Syria covering a span of three months and soon a similar appeal will be announced for Turkey. Saudia Arabia also sent a relief plane with 35 tons of food and aid to Syria.

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