The Tragedy in Turkey and Syria

Emma Schifferl, Editor-in-Chief

On February 6, 2023, at around 4:15 a.m local time, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the country of Turkey, with aftershocks also causing damage in Syria. Within the first 12 hours, more than 100 buildings had collapsed and over 1,000 people had died. Weeks later, the death toll has surpassed 50,000 people, hundreds of buildings have collapsed, and both countries are trying to recover from one of the worst natural disasters in recent history.

When it comes to the sheer destruction of Turkey, the topic of infrastructure is a main point of concern. Due to the fast-growing demand for commercial and residential spaces in the country, many buildings were not up to code. Many were able to pay fines to get around rules and regulations, which inadvertently caused the death of tens of thousands of Turkish citizens. While the building codes in Turkey were enforced but easily avoided, Syria was not able to enforce such rules and regulations. In the wake of a bloody civil war, the dictator of Syria, President Bashar Al-Assad, has seen both the economy and the infrastructure crumble.

As the weeks continue to pass, the death toll will continue to rise. Over 50,000 people have died, but that number may underrepresent the real toll, especially because of the ineffective emergency response in war-torn Syria. One noticeable name mentioned in the list of people who have died is former Premier League Soccer player Christian Atsu, a Ghanaian national who played for a Turkish team. Even with millions of dollars and thousands of people who can help, the search and aid administered cannot stop the rise in the death toll. Because of tensions between the United States and Syria, the amount of aid sent to Syria is significantly smaller than that sent to Turkey.

Turkey is no stranger to major earthquakes, as it is an epicenter because of its location on the tectonic plates. Since 2000, around 20 earthquakes and subsequent aftershocks have struck the country. With an average magnitude of 6.3, these earthquakes are known to cause massive damage. However, after the most recent earthquake, many contractors have been arrested because of faulty work and subsequent building collapses. When it comes to earthquakes, the destruction of buildings and other infrastructure failures are the main causes of death. Even if earthquakes cannot be prevented, the death tolls can be lower if builders follow proper regulations.

*Sources used include The National News, MoneyControl, and the United States Geological Survey