Earthquakes Devastate Turkey, Syria
STRONG EARTHQUAKE KNOCKS DOWN BUILDINGS IN TURKEY AND SYRIA; SHAKING FELT ACROSS ISRAEL: A powerful earthquake struck southern Turkey early Monday, February 6, demolishing buildings and jostling people awake across the region, including in Israel, where it was felt in Tel Aviv and across the country.
The earthquake knocked down buildings in Turkey and Syria, killing at least 2,400 people and injuring thousands more in both countries. At least 3,500 people were killed and more than 5,000 people were injured due to the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck central Turkey, according to Turkish officials. A second earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 hit the Syrian capital Damascus on Monday, media reported. In one quake-struck Turkish city, dozens pulled away chunks of concrete and twisted metal. People on the street shouted up to others inside a partially toppled apartment building, leaning dangerously. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage in Israel from the 7.8 magnitude temblor. The earthquake, felt as far away as Cairo, was centered north of the city of Gaziantep in an area about 90 kilometers (60 miles) from the Syrian border. It was recorded at a depth of 17.9 kilometers and struck at 3:17 a.m. in Israel. Strong aftershocks continued to jolt the area hours after the initial quake, some of them felt in Israel as well. (TOI / VFI News)
SECOND 7.5 MAGNITUDE EARTHQUAKE HITS TURKEY, SYRIA, HOURS AFTER FIRST: A second earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 hit the Syrian capital Damascus on Monday, February 6, media reported.
Turkish president Erdogan said that this tragedy is the country’s largest disaster since 1939, adding that 2,818 buildings collapsed as a result. 45 countries have offered help with search and rescue efforts, the Turkish president said. The quake, which hit in the early darkness of a winter morning, was also felt in Cyprus and Lebanon. At least 371 people were killed in Syria in this incident, according to the Syrian media. The airport in the southern Turkish province of Adana closed for flights following the major earthquakes, a private Turkish news agency reported. The airport reopened a few hours later, according to the Turkish Transportation Ministry. The Turkish Defense Ministry said that armed forces have set up an air aid corridor to the earthquake zone. The tremor lasted about a minute and shattered windows, according to a witness in Diyarbakir, 350 km (218 miles) to the east, where a security official said at least 17 buildings collapsed. Turkish authorities scrambled rescue teams and supply aircraft to the region around the city of Kahramanmaras, while declaring a “level 4 alarm” that calls for international assistance. “I have never felt anything like it in the 40 years I’ve lived,” said Erdem, a resident of the Turkish city of Gaziantep, near the quake’s epicenter, who declined to give his surname. “We were shaken at least three times very strongly, like a baby in a crib.” (JPost / VFI News)
3,500 CONFIRMED DEAD AFTER HUGE EARTHQUAKE, BUT THOUSANDS MORE FATALITIES FEARED: At least 3,000 people are now confirmed to have died after the two catastrophic earthquakes devastated parts of Turkey and Syria – 1,762 of these in Turkey, more than 700 people in opposition-controlled Syria and 538 in government-held areas of Syria, according to British media reports. [Latest media reports say deaths now surpass 11,000.]
Thousands more fatalities are feared in the coming days after the 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude tremors in southeastern Turkey caused buildings to collapse on people as they slept in their beds in the early hours of the morning. Victims trapped in collapsed buildings have been pleading for help as rescuers desperately try to free them – with some people even broadcasting on Facebook Live while trapped to try and get aid. In Turkey, entire apartment blocks crashed to the ground in a matter of seconds following the quakes, trapping families inside and killing thousands. In Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey, a woman speaking next to the wreckage of the seven-story block where she lived, said: ‘We were shaken like a cradle. There were nine of us at home. Two sons of mine are still in the rubble, I’m waiting for them.’ ‘It was like the apocalypse,’ said Abdul Salam al-Mahmoud, a Syrian in the northern town of Atareb. ‘It’s bitterly cold and there’s heavy rain, and people need saving.’ Heartbreaking photos and videos have shown emergency services pulling the bodies of children from the rubble in multiple cities, as well as miraculous rescues with people somehow being carried out alive after the catastrophe. (DM / VFI News)
‘REQUEST WAS RECEIVED’: ISRAEL TO SEND EARTHQUAKE RELIEF TO SYRIA AND TURKEY: Israel is sending aid to Syria, as well as Turkey, as they grapple with the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that killed over 3,500 people in the region, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, February 6.
Netanyahu said that Israel had received requests through diplomatic channels to assist in Syria, and that aid would be provided there. “A request was also received to [provide relief] for the many who were injured in the earthquake in Syria,” Netanyahu said, and therefore he has “instructed that this be done.” However, an unnamed Syrian official flatly denied that Damascus had made such a request for Israeli assistance in an interview with a Hezbollah-linked website. Still, the Israeli military and other security bodies were looking into how to provide aid to Syria, sources told Israeli media. Israel plans to send tents, medication and blankets to Syria. In addition, a senior political official said that Israel would receive wounded Syrians for medical treatment if a request was made. Netanyahu also said he sends condolences to the citizens of Turkey, and that “at the request of the Turkish government, I have instructed extraction, rescue, and medical relief teams.” “That is how we operate around the world, and also how we operate nearby,” he said in a statement. (TOI / VFI News)
‘OLIVE BRANCHES:’ ISRAELI HUMANITARIAN AID DELEGATION LEAVES FOR TURKEY: Monday evening, February 6, the joint “Olive Branches” humanitarian aid delegation of the Israel Defense Forces, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense will leave Israel for Türkiye (Turkey) to assist in the earthquake-stricken area of the country.
The delegation, led by the IDF Home Front Command, will depart from the Nevatim Air Force Base on Israeli Air Force aircraft this evening. It is expected to begin its search and rescue mission immediately. An advanced team departed for Türkiye earlier Monday afternoon and will receive the delegation upon landing in Türkiye. The Commanding Officer of the Home Front Command, MG Rafi Milo, defined the delegation’s mission as providing immediate assistance in life-saving efforts. This will include quickly mapping out the sites hit by the earthquake. In parallel, the delegation is preparing to provide medical assistance to individuals rescued from the sites hit by the earthquake. The delegation is being led by the Commander of the National Rescue Unit in the Home Front Command, COL (res.) Golan Vach, and includes 150 active-duty and reservist personnel. Israel Fire and Rescue Authority personnel will also join the delegation. The Commander of the Search and Rescue Brigade, COL Elad Edri, is responsible for search and rescue and logistical preparations. Furthermore, the IDF Medical Corps is making preparations to send out a delegation to assemble a field hospital if it is deemed necessary, and as instructed by the Minister of Defense. (INN / VFI News)
RUSSIA THREATENS TO ATTACK ISRAELI MILITARY AID TO UKRAINE: The Russian government issued a thinly-veiled warning to Israel not to provide any military weapons to Ukraine, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he was considering whether to do so.
“If I’m asked by both sides, and frankly, if I’m asked by the United States — because I think, you know, you can’t have too many cooks in the kitchen,” Netanyahu said. “We say that all countries that supply weapons should understand that we will consider these to be legitimate targets for Russia’s armed forces,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters Wednesday, February 1. She added: “Any attempts — implemented or even unrealized but announced for the supply of additional, new or some other weapons — lead and will lead to an escalation of this crisis. And everyone should be aware of this.” Israel has supplied Ukraine with humanitarian aid since the Russian invasion began in late February 2022. However, the Ukrainian government has been critical of Israel’s reticence to provide military aid during the now year-long war. (INN / VFI News)
ROCKET FIRED FROM GAZA AT SOUTHERN ISRAEL, INTERCEPTED BY IRON DOME: A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel on Wednesday evening, February 1, was intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, the military said.
Incoming rocket sirens sounded in the southern city of Sderot and the nearby towns of Ibim and Nir Am. Footage showed Iron Dome interceptor missiles exploding in the air. The Israel Defense Forces said the rocket was downed by the air defense system. Medics said a woman in her 50s was lightly hurt after slipping while running to a bomb shelter in Sderot. She was taken by the Magen David Adom ambulance service to a nearby hospital for further treatment. A large piece of shrapnel landed in the southern city, causing minor damage to a road, the Sderot municipality said. Images and a video circulating on social media shortly after the rocket attack showed three Iranian-made 107mm Fadjr-1 projectiles, similar to the shrapnel found in Sderot, with text on them reading: “The female prisoners are a red line.” The text was apparently referring to reports of a crackdown by the Israel Prison Service (IPS) against Palestinian inmates in Israeli jails, especially female prisoners. It was unclear which armed group had issued the footage, and there was no immediate claim by any of the Gaza-based terror groups for the rocket fire Wednesday. (TOI / VFI News)
ISRAEL TARGETS HAMAS SITES IN RETALIATORY GAZA STRIKES; ROCKET SIRENS SOUND IN SDEROT: Israeli Air Force warplanes carried out sorties in the Gaza Strip early Thursday, February 2, in response to the rocket attack on southern Israel hours earlier, as a new round of rocket alarms sounded in Sderot and nearby towns, the military said.
The Israel Defense Forces said its jets bombed a site where the Hamas terror group stores chemicals used to make missiles. It also struck a facility where the group manufactures weaponry, the army said. A Palestinian news outlet reported that Israel bombed “resistance sites” in central Gaza. Footage published by Palestinian media showed fireballs exploding amid the densely populated coastal enclave. Israel considers Hamas, which rules the Strip, responsible for any attack emanating from the enclave, regardless of whether the group was behind it. “The strike deals a serious blow to Hamas’s ability to fortify and arm itself,” the IDF said in a statement. “The Air Force destroyed Hamas weapons production and storage sites tonight. Any [rocket] fire at the State of Israel or any attempt to harm the lives of the residents of the south will be met with the strength of the IDF,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Twitter on Thursday morning. (TOI / VFI News)
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Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff