A Major Earthquake Hits Turkey and Syria, Destroying a 2,000-Year-Old Unesco World Heritage Site

A major 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit central Turkey and north-west Syria this Monday, February 6, with a second 7.4 magnitude quake reported a few hours later in the same region, according to reports from the Guardian. Among the most affected areas is Gaziantep, located 150 miles from the border with Syria and 50 miles from the earthquake’s epicenter in Kahramanmaraş. Tremors were felt as far away as Lebanon, Greece, Israel, and the island of Cyprus. Authorities are still assessing the number of victims, as local and international rescue teams have been deployed to search for survivors. Early estimates report that over 1,700 buildings have collapsed or have been critically damaged, as confirmed by Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay.

One of the buildings destroyed was the Gaziantep Castle, a 2,000-year-old historical landmark and a Unesco World Heritage site. The castle was built in the second and third centuries C.E. in the Roman period, and it was passed over to the Byzantines after the Roman Empire split. Under Emperor Justinian I, the fortification was extended and renovated, and subterranean galleries were installed to defend against invaders. In recent times, the castle was home to the Gaziantep Defence and Heroism Panoramic Museum, which attracted large numbers of visitors.

CNN reports the extent of the damage: several bastions in the east, south and southeast parts of the structure were destroyed, and the retaining wall next to the castle has also collapsed. While these are only the first reports, in some bastions, large cracks have been observed, showing that the remaining structures are susceptible to further damage.

Local media has also reported that the 17th-century Şirvani Mosque is severely damaged, as its dome and the eastern wall collapsed. According to the BBC, a shopping mall in the city of Diyarbakir has also been toppled.

  A Major Earthquake Hits Turkey and Syria, Destroying a 2,000-Year-Old Unesco World Heritage Site - Image 2 of 2
The Galeria Business Center in Diyarbakır, Turkey, after the Kahramanmaras earthquake. Image Courtesy of Mahmut Bozarslan (Voice of America)

According to Turkish Interior Minister Suleymon Soylu, ten cities were severely affected by the initial quake, including Hatay, Osmaniye, Adiyaman, Malatya, Sanliurfa, Adana, Diyarbakir, and Kilis. The European Union and the United States pledged to help, as several countries have begun sending search and rescue specialists and equipment to Turkey. As the situation continues to unfold, architects, designers, and building professionals will be needed to bring quick and reliable solutions for emergency housing and medical facilities for the affected communities.

Here is a list of links where you can contribute to help the victims in the most affected regions of Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon, as compiled by Vogue Arabia:

  • The International Blue Crescent Relief and Development Foundation (IBC) is accepting and distributing donations of essential items including ready-to-eat food, first aid kits, blankets, and heaters;
  • UNICEF is coordinating efforts to help suffering families and children in northern Syria;
  • The Lounchgood campaign is collecting funds until March 6, 2023;
  • Care is using donations via the Global Emergency Fund to provide emergency relief and services. Contributions can be made by calling this number 1800 020 046 toll-free;
  • Residents of the UK can make donations to Oxfam;
  • The Time to Help organization is forwarding all of its donations to international charities working in Turkey;
  • Molham, a foundation created by Syrian university students, is also currently raising donations.

About this author
Cite: Maria-Cristina Florian. " A Major Earthquake Hits Turkey and Syria, Destroying a 2,000-Year-Old Unesco World Heritage Site" 06 Feb 2023. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/996027/a-major-earthquake-hits-turkey-and-syria-destroying-a-2000-year-old-unesco-world-heritage-site> ISSN 0719-8884

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