Updated Feb 8, 2023 - World

Satellite images from Turkey, Syria capture earthquake devastation

Destroyed buildings in Nurdagi, Turkey

Destroyed buildings in Nurdagi, Turkey on Feb. 7. Satellite image: Maxar Technologies

New satellite images from Turkey and Syria illuminate the extent of devastation facing the region after a massive earthquake and aftershocks struck on Monday, reducing neighborhoods to rubble and displacing thousands of people in the dead of winter.

Driving the news: The death toll surpassed 12,000 on Wednesday as search and rescue operations continued, with officials warning that the death toll will continue to rise.

The big picture: Thousands of buildings have collapsed, leaving many people stranded in the freezing temperatures, with the severe weather also hampering rescue operations, Al Jazeera reported.

  • In southern Turkey, Gaziantep and its surrounding areas were home to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who have been displaced by nearly 12 years of war.
  • In opposition-held areas of northwestern Syria, where millions of people displaced by the war live in densely populated towns, the devastation will compound other humanitarian and economic crises already facing people in the region.
  • “There was already very little electricity or heating throughout the country. Now there’s none at all,” Emma Forster, a policy and communications manager for the Norwegian Refugee Council, who is based in Damascus, told the Financial Times.

Zoom in: In Gaziantep, near the epicenter of the 7.8 earthquake, the quake leveled residential buildings and caused severe damage to an ancient castle built during the Roman era.

  • In the city of Kahramanmaras in Turkey, entire commercial strips were destroyed, the Washington Post reported.
  • In Nurdagi, Turkey, residential buildings have been reduced to rubble and the city's “Great Garden,” usually lush with green and lined with benches and shops, is filled with tents sheltering survivors and emergency crews, CNN reported.
  • Nurdagi's residents lined up dozens of bodies of the dead, wrapped in blankets or body bags, outside the city's hospital because the morgue was too full, per the Washington Post.
  • In Malatya, a layer of snow covered the debris, which included a major hotel and large apartment building, as well as the historic Yeni Mosque, per the New York Times.
  • Residents in Malatya tried to pick through the rubble by hand. "Where is the state? We are begging them. Let us do it, we can rescue them," Sabiha Alinak, a local resident, told Reuters.
  • In Syria, Aleppo — the country's pre-war commercial hub whose old city is a Unesco world heritage site — has painstakingly sought to rebuild its infrastructure after much of it was destroyed in the country's civil war. The city was one of the areas hardest hit by the earthquake, the BBC reported.
  • Syria's Idlib province is home to 4.5 million people, more than half of whom had been internally displaced due to the war. A volunteer worker described to the Washington Post "enormous" amounts of people wandering the streets despite the pounding rain, trying to reunite with loved ones.
satellite images of NURDAGI TURKEY
Buildings in Kahramanmaras, Turkey before and after the earthquake. Satellite image: Planet Labs
Buildings in Kahramanmaras
Buildings in Kahramanmaras, Turkey before and after the earthquake. Satellite image: Planet Labs
Buildings in Nurdagi, Turkey before and after the earthquake
Satellite images show buildings in Nurdagi, Turkey in Sept. 2019, and emergency tents and damaged buildings on Feb. 7. Satellite image: Maxar Technologies
Buildings in Nurdagi, Turkey before and after the earthquake
Buildings in Nurdagi, Turkey before and after the earthquake. Satellite image: Maxar Technologies
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