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Earthquake in Türkiye and Syria

By Dilek

Young Girl Rescued from the Rubble

On the night of Feb. 6th, two back-to-back massive earthquakes, epi-centered in southeastern Türkiye, powerfully shook the whole region including northern Syria, waking millions from their sleeps to the horrors of an enormous disaster. It was the most powerful series of earthquakes in recent memory and caused massive destruction in an area larger than the entire state of Michigan. Seismologists say that the biggest reason for destruction is because the tectonic plates ruptured very close to the surface. The shallow quake caused the ground to slip for more than 10 feet and created intense tremors for nearly 2 minutes in some areas.

The epicenter of the second earthquake was my father’s hometown. My aunt, two of my cousins, and their families lost their homes in different parts of the city of Maraş. Very fortunately, they are all okay, at least physically. I personally think that the saddest part is that the people who fled the man-made, political disaster of war in the southern border country of Syria and have found refuge in Türkiye over the past 10 years, many of them women and children, were caught in a disaster again, this time a natural disaster. This earthquake will surely worsen the suffering of the people in northern Syria already struggling with a decade-long civil war and displacement. Many more people will be displaced by this disaster.

Railway tracks in Maraş have been bent and shifted to the side as a result of the earthquake

Photo by

As I am still processing and grasping the magnitude of the disaster, I am looking for ways to help anyway I can. Experiencing a tragedy at a place near and dear to your heart feels very personal. “Fire hurts where it burns” is a Turkish proverb to express that we cannot fully understand the suffering of others if we have not personally experienced what they are going through. I suppose many cultures have an equivalent saying in their home languages. Even if we may not fully relate to their experiences, words of empathy and support can help ease some of the emotional pain. One of the many lessons the pandemic has taught us is the importance of social connections. It is well evidenced that being surrounded by a supportive, caring community of people increases resilience in times of stress and anxiety.

If you are inclined to contribute to relief and rebuilding efforts, reach out to people from the region for well-vetted aid organizations that work with local partners with a track record of transparency and effectiveness. No donation is too small. The US dollar will go a lot farther in many places around the world than it does here in the US. Rebuilding destroyed places and devastated lives after disasters of such magnitude take many more years after the media coverage ends.

Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and acts of kindness.

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