2 major earthquakes kill over 2,300 in Syria and Turkey, tremors felt in Israel

Most powerful earthquake in Turkey since 1999 sparks building collapses, with thousands wounded; second massive earthquake follows hours later.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

A strong earthquake centered in southern Turkey shook multiple countries in the region, including Israel, at around 4 a.m. Monday morning, and left at least 1,500 people dead in Turkey and Syria. The death toll continues to rise.

The quake’s epicenter was recorded some 50 miles away from Gaziantep, near Turkey’s border with Syria. Registering as a 7.8 on the Richter scale, it was the most powerful earthquake to shake the country since 1999.

International media reported that residential buildings had collapsed in both Syria and Turkey, killing some 500 as of Monday morning, with at least 2,000 people wounded and many more trapped under the rubble.

According to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center, the powerful quake was felt in Lebanon, Jordan, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, and as far away as Romania and Georgia.

The head of Syria’s National Earthquake Center, Raed Ahmed, told local radio that this was “historically, the biggest earthquake recorded in the history of the center.”

Just before 1 p.m., a second, 7.5 magnitude quake struck four kilometers southeast of Ekinözü, Turkey, at a depth of 10 kilometers, causes many more casualties and contributing towards the death toll to surpass 2,300.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant offered to send search-and-rescue crews to assist Turkish authorities in their efforts to recover victims.

Although Turkey is a popular tourist destination for Israelis, no citizens are believed to have been injured during the earthquake, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Israel has received a request to provide Syria with humanitarian aid, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed Monday afternoon. Russia reportedly made the request on Syria’s behalf.

Within Israel, residents stretching as far north as Haifa and down to the southern coastal city of Ashdod, near the Gaza Strip, reported feeling tremors.

“We were asleep but then the dog barked,” Noam Amir, a resident of the Netanyaa suburb of Kfar Yona, told Israel Hayom.

“Usually, her barking means someone is at the door, but just after she had woken us up, the entire building started to move. It lasted a good few moments, long enough for me to understand that this is an earthquake, wake up my wife and kids, and then rush them to the safe rooms.”

There are no reports of serious damage to property or injuries in Israel resulting from the quake.