In the days and weeks following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck southern Turkey on February 6th, 2023, thousands of aftershocks ensued, with several exceeding a magnitude of 5.5. This escalation intensified the destruction and impeded search and rescue operations aimed at freeing the numerous individuals trapped among the nearly 200,000 collapsed or severely damaged buildings. The dire circumstances were further exacerbated by the harsh winter weather plaguing the region, which significantly affected children, the elderly, and other vulnerable populations.
In northwestern Syria, the combined effects of the earthquake and a severe snowstorm led to damaged or blocked roads, power outages, and disrupted telecommunications networks, all of which hindered relief efforts. It is estimated that around 750,000 people across the Turkish-Syrian border are seeking shelter in tents, makeshift accommodations, or the remnants of destroyed structures. A staggering 81% of the estimated damages occurred in the Adıyaman, Hatay, Gaziantep, Malatya, and Kahramanmaraş provinces, home to approximately 6.45 million inhabitants.
The World Bank has estimated the cost of physical damages in Turkey to be $34.2 billion, equivalent to roughly 4% of the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This figure encompasses damages to crucial infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals, telecommunications lines, and public works.