When a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria early Monday morning local time, its tremor could be felt as far afield as Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. A second quake, which recorded a magnitude of 7.5, struck just 9 hours later.
Both countries are still reeling from the devastating aftermath. So far, at least 1,400 people have been killed as a result of the quakes, and thousands more have been injured. Thousands of buildings have been reduced to rubble.
Though earthquakes are not uncommon in this part of the world, today’s is believed to be the largest and deadliest one to hit Turkey in decades. Here’s what we know about it.
When and where did the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria occur?
The initial earthquake struck the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep, roughly 150 miles away from the Turkey-Syria border, at 4:17 a.m. local time at a depth of about 11 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The second earthquake, the epicenter of which was roughly 80 miles north of Gaziantep in Turkey’s Kahramanmaras province, struck at 1:24 p.m. local time and was six miles deep, according to USGS.
How big is a 7.8 quake on the local magnitude scale?
While an earthquake magnitude of 2.5 or less can pass by undetected, earthquakes with a magnitude of 7.0 or higher are classified as a “major earthquake,” which can cause serious damage. A magnitude 8.0 or higher, considered “a great earthquake,” is capable of destroying entire communities.
While the magnitude of an earthquake denotes its size and strength, the potential damage caused by a quake is also determined by its depth (the shallower the quake, the more damaging) and its proximity to population centers.
In a tweet, U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough likened the size of the initial earthquake in Turkey to San Francisco’s Great Earthquake of 1906, which left more than 3,000 dead and much of the city in ruins.
Are Turkey and Syria prone to earthquakes?
Earthquakes are not uncommon in Turkey. Most of the country is situated on the Anatolian Plate, which borders two major fault lines: the North Anatolian fault, which stretches across the country from west to east, and the East Anatolian fault, which is in eastern Turkey. The former has been the site of several disastrous earthquakes, according to the Geological Society of London, including the 1939 earthquake in northeastern Turkey that resulted in the deaths of 30,000 people.
The initial 7.8 magnitude earthquake is believed to have occurred on either the East Anatolian fault zone or the Dead Sea transform fault zone, according to the USGS.
What is the scale of the damage?
The death toll has been staggering. In Turkey, the death toll has surpassed 1,000 people, according to the country’s disaster agency, and thousands more have been injured—figures that are almost certain to rise as search and rescue efforts continue. In Syria, the country’s health ministry confirmed that at least 326 people were killed, with more than 1,000 injured. The northwestern part of the country, which falls under the control of the Turkish-backed Syrian opposition, at least 221 people have been killed, according to the Syrian Civil Defense group.
While the full scale of the infrastructure damage is yet to be fully known, the initial assessment has been devastating. In Turkey alone, nearly 3,000 buildings have collapsed, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. One airport runway serving the southern part of the country tore open.
How has the international community responded to the earthquakes?
Erdoğan confirmed that in addition to NATO and the European Union, 45 countries have reached out to Ankara with offers of assistance, including the United States, Britain , Israel, and even war-torn Ukraine.
The post Everything We Know About the Deadly Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria appeared first on TIME.