Thousands Of Earthquake Victims Face Prolonged Cold Stretch In Turkey, Syria
Tens of thousands are now homeless in the aftermath of Monday’s catastrophic earthquake that struck southern Turkey and northwestern Syria. Wintry conditions this week will only add to the burden those affected by the earthquake face.
Officials confirmed on Tuesday night, local time, that more than 7,000 people have been killed in Turkey and Syria, with over 33,000 people estimated to be injured. More than 100 aftershocks have also been reported across the area.
The deadly magnitude 7.8 earthquake occurred shortly after 4 a.m. local time Monday near the major Turkish city of Gaziantep. Residents were jolted awake in the middle of the night and forced to flee their homes into the frigid conditions as rain and snow showers were ongoing across the region.
A storm that passed near the epicenter in Gaziantep Monday produced steady rain in southern Turkey and northern Syria and hampered rescue and recovery efforts.
UNICEF Spokesperson James Elder confirmed that “thousands of homes have been destroyed, displacing families and exposing them to the elements at a time of year when temperatures regularly drop below freezing.”
Elder further noted that schools, hospitals and other refuge locations were also damaged or completely destroyed and that Syrian refugees in more informal housing are especially vulnerable to the cold. Over 5,600 buildings were knocked over in Turkey alone, according to Turkey’s Department of Emergency Management.
The World Health Organization said on Twitter that recent heavy snow and rainfall were making the devastating situation even worse for people waiting outdoors across the region. The weather has also slowed the progression of trucks bringing in supplies.
“Through the rest of the week, the region is likely to remain quite cold. In portions of southern Turkey and northwestern Syria, temperatures are expected to be 5-10 F (3-6 C) below normal into Saturday,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Tyler Roys.
Cities like Gaziantep and Elbistan, those closest to the earthquakes that had a rating of 7.0 or higher on the Richter Scale, can anticipate high temperatures in the lower or middle 40s F (around 6 C) with low temperatures dropping to the mid-20s F (around 4 C below zero). AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures are forecast to dip down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit Tuesday night in Gaziantep.
AccuWeather meteorologists say the more extreme cold is likely to remain farther removed from the earthquake epicenter and stay in portions of central and western Turkey. In these areas, like the cities of Ankara and Kayseri, high temperatures are unlikely to rise above the freezing mark.
Roys did note, however, that despite the cold forecast across the region, dry weather is also expected. Sunshine is likely each day, and the lack of rain should help aid rescue and recovery efforts.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Tuesday that hotels in Antalya will be used to give earthquake survivors a warm place to shelter. Thousands of tents and more than 100,000 beds were also sent to the most severely impacted communities. The president also declared a state of emergency for the 10 impacted provinces for at least three months.
The Hatay Airport, an international airport located in southwestern Turkey, suspended operations after its runway was significantly damaged by the quake. Photos and videos shared on Twitter showed a massive tear in the middle of the airport’s only runway.
The Gaziantep Castle, a historical site and tourist attraction in southeastern Turkey, was also severely damaged during the quake on Monday, CNN reported.
Light shaking was felt in Ankara, Turkey’s capital city, which is located about 318 miles to the northwest. Shaking was also observed in Lebanon. In Israel, the quake was felt around Tel Aviv. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, shaking was even reported as far away as Cairo.
Produced in association with AccuWeather.