International/U.S. News Editor
A magnitude 6.3 earthquake has hit areas of southern Turkey and northern Syria following the 7.8 quake that left over 40,000 people dead.
The stronger quake occurred on February 6 in the Kahramanmaras region of Turkey, leaving hundreds of buildings collapsed in both countries. The Turkish government has confirmed over 40,000 deaths, while Syria, in both government and rebel-controlled territories, has stated just over 5,000. The more recent quake happened on February 20 in the Hatay province and caused the destruction of more buildings with at least six more deaths and over 200 injured. Search-and-rescue efforts have managed to safely find survivors, but further actions are now being called off in most areas as more and more rubble keeps blocking their progress. The victims also include Ghanaian soccer player Christian Atsu, who had played in the English Premier League and Turkish Super Lig. Thousands of people have been displaced from their homes and are now forced to relocate to makeshift houses and tents. Turkey is planning to rebuild over 30,000 buildings, and emergency help from the United Nations is being allowed into Syria.
Turkish authorities have issued warnings to citizens to stay away from the collapsed buildings due to the hundreds of aftershocks that occurred soon after. The response of rescue operations had also been delayed in some areas, leaving many people angry. Parts of Turkey had to wait several days for help to arrive, causing more people to stay stuck under the rubble, and people in the rebel-held areas of Syria were forced to look after themselves. The population of Turkey that is now homeless are now finding shelter in cars, gymnasiums, blankets, or wherever else they can go. Electricity and internet services that were already damaged by the 7.8 quake have been further disrupted in parts of Syria. People had also fled buildings by stampeding or jumping.
There is also a sense of anger and frustration with the people regarding the buildings themselves. Turkish authorities arrested multiple property developers with concerns about the government’s lack of attention toward building regulations. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the government will hold these people accountable and “will not forgive anyone.” Rescue operations are still continuing in the Hatay province and some areas with the most destruction from the 7.8 quake. The United States has pledged $100 million for disaster relief along with multiple other countries and organizations doing whatever they can to help.
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