On Friday, 30 October 2020, a powerful earthquake struck the eastern Turkish province of Elazig, with a magnitude of 6.8 on the Richter Scale. The quake was felt in neighboring countries including Georgia, Armenia and Iran, as well as in Istanbul, some 250 miles away. The quake was also felt in the capital Ankara and in Istanbul, with some of the buildings in the city’s historic centre collapsing.
The earthquake left at least 41 people dead and more than 1,600 injured, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD). Rescue efforts are still ongoing, with emergency services scrambling to provide relief to the thousands of people affected by the quake.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the death toll could increase by as much as eight-fold. WHO Spokesman Christian Lindmeier said that the organization was “deeply concerned” about the situation in Turkey, adding that the earthquake had hit an area that had already been weakened by a series of earthquakes in the past few years.
The Turkish government has declared a three-day period of mourning in the wake of the quake, and has deployed over 1,000 rescue personnel to the affected areas. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged citizens to be vigilant and not to enter damaged buildings, as they may be structurally unsound. The Red Crescent has also set up tents in the affected areas to provide shelter to those in need. Despite the ongoing relief efforts, the full extent of the devastation is yet to be determined.
The earthquake has highlighted the need for better earthquake preparedness and response measures in the region. Many of the buildings in the affected regions did not comply with modern earthquake safety standards, making them more vulnerable to destruction. The Turkish government has already announced plans to update building codes in the aftermath of the quake, in order to make buildings more resilient to future disasters. In the meantime, the international community has offered its support to Turkey, with US President Donald Trump offering his condolences and assistance to the Turkish people in the wake of the disaster. The EU has also offered assistance to Turkey and offered its condolences to the victims of the earthquake.
The deadly earthquake in Turkey is a stark reminder of the need for better earthquake preparedness and response measures in the region. As the death toll continues to rise, the international community must come together to provide the necessary assistance to the affected people and to help rebuild the affected areas.