Powerful earthquakes destroy Turkey and Syria

Powerful earthquakes destroyed parts of Turkey and Syria, killing more than 5,000 people in both countries amid the snow and freezing temperatures.

The first quake had a 7.8 magnitude and destroyed large parts of Syria and Turkey Monday, trapping people in the rubble. There also was a 7.5 magnitude second earthquake separate from the first, 60 miles away. 

The first earthquake struck at 4:17 a.m. in the middle of a winter storm across a swath of the country running for hundreds of miles near its border with Syria. 

At least 1,498 people died, Turkey’s emergency service said, with more than 8,000 injured and over 2,800 buildings collapsed. Search teams had rescued almost 2,500 people caught under debris.

The earthquake in Syria killed at least 810 people across the country’s northern region, according to the Syrian Civil Defense organization, known as the White Helmets, and the Health Ministry affiliated with the government in Damascus.

The region sits on a major fault line where 18,000 people were killed in 1999 in northwestern Turkey. 

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) says it is “launching immediate cash assistance” from its Disaster Response Emergency Fund to help relief efforts in both countries.