Monday’s powerful earthquake and aftershocks wreaked havoc in southern Turkey and northern Syria. Within minutes, thousands of buildings collapsed, killing and trapping people inside. The current neighborhood was reduced to dust.
As recovery efforts continue, The Washington Post reviewed videos, photos and historic satellite imagery to show the extent of the physical destruction across the region, from destroyed residential blocks in densely populated Gaziantep to war-torn communities in Idlib. Till which were scattered anew.
At least 5,600 structures have been destroyed in Turkey and about 338,000 people have been placed in shelters, according to local authorities. Thousands have been killed.
The tremors in the city of 2 million near the epicenter of the first quake destroyed many residential and commercial buildings and severely damaged a 2,000-year-old fort.
Ihan Irfanoglu, a professor of engineering at Purdue University, said patterns of damage in Gaziantep and other cities in Turkey were seen after earthquakes in Mexico and China. The presence of “softer” ground stories – with floor plans more open than those above them – can act as structural weak points when subjected to shock stresses. “Pancake” buildings or buildings that appear with joint failure suggest other structural problems.
At Kahramanmaras, fifty miles from Gaziantep, all trade lanes were reduced to rubble.
Turkey imposed stricter building codes after the 1999 earthquake in Kocaeli province that killed more than 17,000 people, but this week’s quake also brought down new buildings.
Video taken on Monday showed stacks of shipping containers collapsing and bursting into flames at the Limak port of Iskenderun in Turkey’s Hatay province. All operations at the port have been suspended.
Despite the region’s further distance from the epicenter, destruction was still widespread in northwestern Syria. Civil engineers told The Post that the building’s failure was likely due to poor construction and the effects of more than a decade of civil war.
“There is no doubt that the war has very negatively affected the ability of Syrian engineers and contractors to build better structures,” Irfanoglu said.
South of the sanctuary
This cluster of buildings, south of the Haram City, collapsed in the earthquake.
Photos and videos taken in the rebel-held town of Sarmada in Idlib, less than five miles from the Turkish border, showed devastating structural damage. The remains of a row of multi-storey buildings on the southern edge of the town were completely unrecognizable on Monday morning.
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