UPDATE: More Than 1,500 People Die in Turkey and Syria After 'Century's Biggest' Earthquake Hits Region

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The death toll has climbed past 1,400 after two powerful earthquakes hit Turkey and Syria on Sunday. Hours after a massive magnitude 7.8 tremor flattened buildings and buried people alive across southern Turkey and Syria, another quake measuring magnitude 7.5 shook the region on Monday morning.

While early estimates say nearly 500 people have died in Syria, the death toll in Turkey has been estimated to be around 1,000. The numbers are likely to go up as rescue teams are still assessing damage from possibly the most powerful earthquake to hit the region in over a century.

Turkey earthquake
A building seen collapsing to the ground in seconds as the 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Turkey Twitter

"It is not possible to give the number of dead and injured at the moment because so many buildings have been destroyed ...The damage is serious..." said Kahramanmaras Governor Omer Faruk Coskun.

Most of the Syrian casualties happened in the regions of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartus. Besides the deaths, more than 1,000 people have been injured, as per records. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a televised address that more than 5,000 people have been injured.

Rescue operations are hobbled by a winter blizzard that caused road blockages due to snow and ice. Three major airports in the region are inoperable, authorities have said.

Turkey earthquake
Buildings came down crashing after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Turkey Twitter

Powerful aftershocks are causing new worries as they prevent rescue operations from being launched in gull swing. "The size of the aftershocks, which may continue for days although mostly decreasing in energy, brings a risk of collapse of structures already weakened by the earlier events ... This makes search and rescue efforts dangerous," David Rothery, an earthquake expert, said, according to AFP.

A magnitude 7.4 earthquake had killed more than 17,000 people in the Turkish region of Duzce in 1999. The last time a 7.8-magnitude tremor shook Turkey, as many as 33,000 had died. This tremor happened in 1939 in the eastern Erzincan province.

A pile of rubble. Twitter

The US, the European Union, Russia, France and Greece were among the nations that offered humanitarian assistance to Turkey. Earlier, Ankara had issued a level 4 alert after the massive quake, indicating it was looking for international assistance.

This article was first published on February 6, 2023