The Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

By Blair Walsh

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which strongly affected Syria and Turkey, has taken a toll on these countries. As humanitarian aid struggles, they are fighting with a monumental effort to recover their lands.
These earthquakes in Syria and Turkey hit many provinces, many of these earthquakes with a severe magnitude and some with less damage. In Syria, some areas that had been previously affected by a civil war already had four million people who relied on humanitarian aid, for example, the city of Aleppo. But there were many other places and cities which were badly hit like Atakia, Hama, and Idlib. In these cities, the buildings have collapsed leaving tons of amounts of rubble, or they have been severely damaged. Similarly in Turkey, the earthquake hit 10 Turkish provinces, including Adana, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Malatya, and Sanliurfa. But these are just the main cities that have been affected, there are many more that have taken the toll of these earthquakes. The quake zone in Turkey did not just affect prominent cities, it stretched across more than 200 miles into mountain passes and highways.
In both Syria and Turkey, these earthquakes have destroyed buildings with many victims trapped under the rubble. These buildings, either being completely collapsed or declared unstable, have left many Syrians and Turkish citizens without shelter in rain, snow, and temperatures that often become freezing. The early days of February, after the earthquake was the main time to find survivors under the rubble but there have been miraculous recoveries many days after the earthquakes.
The severity of these earthquakes causing the buildings to collapse has caused a threatening and dire situation for Syrians and Turkish citizens as they do not have much shelter, food, or medical supplies. Then because these earthquakes were so widespread it has been hard for humanitarian sources of aid and organizations to be able to supply food, shelter, and necessities to people in Turkey and Syria.
This earthquake struck early on February 6th and was the most deadly and harmful earthquake worldwide in decades, as more than 30,000 people have been killed. There were also so many other people who have been rescued from the rubble, losing their loved ones or being severely hurt.
In Turkey, the government has declared a three-month state of emergency in the 10 Turkish provinces. The emergency services tried to distribute shelters such as tents, and many vehicles to excavate the rubble such as cranes and tow trucks. 230,000 relief workers have been supplied all over Turkey, and many other countries sent supplies and systems of relief to aid Turkish citizens suffering from these earthquakes.  
In Syria, it has been difficult for other countries to provide help to the earthquake victims, as a civil war and division of territory in the northwest area. But the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres has announced and provided a $397 million humanitarian appeal for Syria over three months, the same amount of time in which Turkey will be in a state of emergency as well. There have been some supplies that arrived in Syria such as food, clothes, and blankets. But because Syria was in such a terrible state because of the war before the earthquake, doctors and rescuers available in that area have been saying it barely meets the necessities for people who were struggling before the earthquake.
Since the initial earthquake on February 6th, there have been 1600 aftershocks across the entire region of Syria and Turkey. But people can’t help but wonder what the science or logical explanation behind these massive earthquakes is. As earthquakes have been known to occur in Turkey and Syria, it is not something that was unexpected or unpreventable. The natural tectonic processes that take place below the surface of the land where human activity or rising temperatures can reach, caused this earthquake. Although there could be many theories that it could have been “manmade” or a cause of the impending effects of climate change, it was something that occurred naturally in the land plates of Syria and Turkey.
Although the earthquake was a natural occurrence in the shifting of the land plates where it is known these disasters can occur, the disaster of the collapse of these buildings was the cause of the careless structure of the buildings in these areas. The devastation of Syria and Turkey could have been prevented, as well as the wreckage, with the right architecture in place. Japan and San Francisco are cities that are known for having earthquakes so new and recently built buildings and architecture have a certain structure that makes them earthquake resistant. In these places, an example of an earthquake-resistant structure would be the use of steel beams and columns in place of concrete and post-tension systems which prevents the building from collapsing and keeps it sturdy.
But unfortunately, it would be hard for Syria and Turkey to create this type of structure because of the lack of resources they have as of now. With the extent of the damage to the buildings in Syria and Turkey hopefully, they will be provided with the resources to create these types of buildings. So that with the occurrence of common earthquakes in mind, it will prevent disasters like this from happening again.
There is an organization called The White Helmets, a volunteer organization spread across Syria which helped recover people from the rubble and aid them in recovery, as well as providing resources such as food, clothing, and medical care. Within the first few days of the earthquake, the White Helmets were able to save 3,000 people from the destruction and the rubble. They have begun their next stage in the recuperation of these cities and people, which is recovery and rehabilitation.
Not only are these teams of White Helmets excavating the rubble but also overseeing the safety of homes and public buildings, securing sites, removing rubble, and reopening roads. The healthcare professionals which are a part of this team are working hard, on the site of the rubble to save lives as well as provide medical and psychological care to survivors. The White Helmets have a motto that keeps their morals on track while facing tough times in their fight to save and help people in Syria. They take their motto from the Quran “to save a life is to save all of humanity”, which gives them the motivation to save lives every day in places such as Syria.
Just as the White Helmets are in a race against the clock to try and save as many people as possible, it is the time now to make donations and reach out to organizations if you know a way you can help. In order to help Syrians and Turkish people there are many organizations to which you can donate, to aid them in many factors which will help them recover after this devastating earthquake. These organizations have websites, from which you can make a donation. For example, the White Helmets have a website on which you can make a monetary donation. There was also an event here at Léman Manhattan, a film screening of a documentary about the White Helmets, which included a $10 donation. The proceeds went directly to the relief efforts in Syria. But even if not to the White Helmet organization, Project HOPE is an organization and the proceeds help provide supplies for medical assistance and humanitarian aid. They have deployed emergency teams to help in Syria and Turkey. Both of these can be found by either looking up their websites “White Helmets” or “Project HOPE”.
The crisis in Syria and Turkey is relevant and major in today's society, and there are many ways to support organizations that help the victims of these earthquakes.