Today in History: The 2023 Earthquake in Turkey and Syria
By M.C. Millman
On February 6, 2023, a pre-dawn 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit southern Turkey and northern Syria, killing over 52,000 people.
Entire cities were destroyed during the earthquake, and even more destruction followed during the aftershocks, which included a 7.5 magnitude quake later the same afternoon. Eight hundred fifty thousand buildings went down in 65 seconds, along with bridges that collapsed while roads and airport tarmacs were left in ruins.
Freezing weather conditions endangered survivors and made rescue efforts all the more challenging, as more than 100 aftershocks shook the region up further throughout the next two days.
A full year later, hundreds of thousands of people remain displaced despite the empty promises of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who assured voters he would build 650,000 new housing units. His word was meant to bolster his re-election campaign that year, which it did. Yet, one year later, only 46,000 have been completed, leaving families that chose to stay in the disaster zone in metal container homes with access to free running water and power but next to no surviving possessions and a very hazy future.
The fact that so many buildings collapsed instantly during the earthquake is a sign of the greed and corruption among bureaucrats who turned a blind eye to the unsafe building practices of developers over the years despite the country being earthquake-prone.
No officials have suffered any consequences since the tragic event, meaning the country is no safer for the next earthquake than the one that shook the county to its roots last year.