A massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake rocked and devastated southern Turkey early Monday morning, killing more than 1,400 people across the country and in neighboring Syria. Reports have also come in of a second smaller 7.5-magnitude earthquake in southeast Turkey less than 12 hours after the first quake.
The initial earthquake was so powerful that it caused buildings hundreds of miles away in Israel to sway as the ground shook before the second quake struck Kahramanmaras province less than 12 hours later.
A horrific and tragic scene emerged at dawn, showing buildings toppled over, cars crushed, and people wandering in the debris-strewn streets looking for the familiarity that had been there only hours before.
Monday's earthquake is the strongest earthquake Turkey has had since 1939, despite the country sitting on top of one of the world's most active seismic zones.
Despite current tensions with NATO as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to block Sweden and Finland's ascension into the military alliance, the devastation is so bad, that those differences have been set aside with NATO, the EU, and 45 other countries offering Turkey support and assistance.
Erdogan announced on state television that an estimated 3,000 buildings have been destroyed and said, "We hope that we will overcome this disaster together as soon as possible."
Reports of damage from the hardest hit southern region of the country include damage to the port of Iskenderun and cracks in runways at local airports. The one silver lining is that Turkish state-run pipeline operator Botas, has reported that no leaks have been detected in crude oil pipelines that connect Turkey's southern region with oil fields in Iraq and Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile, in Syria, "Six hundred and thirty-nine people were injured and 237 were killed in the provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, and Tartus," a statement released by the Syrian Health Ministry announced.
While rescue efforts and damage assessments get underway, the U.S. Geological Survey issued a grim warning that a powerful earthquake in Turkey could result in as many as 10,000 deaths.
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