What is Going on in Turkey and Syria?


Jasmine Machmouchi, Contributor '25

Regardless of how often you check the news, the majority of people have heard or seen some sort of news regarding Turkey (Türkiye) and Syria. On Monday the 6th of February, 2023 an earthquake shook western Asia and left many in shock. How severe was the earthquake? The earthquake was measured at a 7.8, which is classified as “major” on the magnitude scale. The epicenter was said to be just bordering the town of Gaziantep.

To put it into perspective, Gaziantep is a city located in the south of Turkey, and the earthquake was so powerful to the extent the seismic waves produced were then felt in Lebanon. Lebanon does not share a border with Turkey. It does so with Syria which shares a border with Turkey. That means the earthquake was so powerful it affected another two countries, one not even bordering the country in which the epicenter is located in. Just about every store in Lebanon had empty shelves due to the earthquake knocking over everything; Now imagine just how bad both Syria and Turkey are suffering.

I do personally as well have family and friends in Lebanon as I am Lebanese so later on in the article I will be discussing my family and friend’s first hand experiences and personal opinions.


Some Geography


Turkey is located on the borders of Europe and Asia and is in fact considered to be a country of both continents. Syria is located to the south of Turkey, which just so happens to be right next to where the epicenter was located. Lebanon is then further down to the south of Syria.




Three days post the disaster it is estimated an approximate of 17,000 people have died across all three countries, and many many more are injured. This is only the short-term number of course. There are many other effects that the earthquake has had that will lead to unfortunately and even higher death count. This is of course things such as lack of resources and the unemployment rate increase that is certain to happen due to the number of offices that have collapsed and people losing lots of money. Like just mentioned many offices, homes, schools, hospitals, etc. have collapsed; in Turkey alone over 400 buildings have collapsed, and 5,600 structures were destroyed. In Syria there has been an estimate of over 200 building collapses with another 420 that are minorly collapsed and thousands more have major cracks.


Stories being shared


Due to the vast amount of media coverage this story is getting, there have been multiples stories being shared. Before I proceed to share any of these I would just like to warn there is some content that I am going to write about which some may consider sensitive as I do discuss major casualties including death.




There have been many upsetting and hurtful stories coming out of both countries and I will start of with Syria.

The current most told story, which is getting lots of coverage, is regarding a young girl, approximately around the age of 8, and her younger brother who seems to be around 4-5. Around 24 hours after the earthquake, many social workers who are going around and ensuring people are safe and receive the attention they need – truly are heroes, came around this house in which its ceiling had collapsed. What they found under there is that little girl had been holding up the ceiling with her hand around her brother’s head – protecting him, for over 20 hours.

Another story which began catching the medias eye around 3 days after the disaster is about a pregnant lady who went into labor just a couple moments after the earthquake, she was not under medical supervision and injured but she gave birth to her daughter anyways. The baby was then later found by some other survivors and the umbilical cord was cut. However, by the time the baby was found the mother had already passed due to an extreme loss of blood. When they went searching for the father of this child, they discovered he had also passed away.




Turkey also has many heart-breaking stories that truly makes you realize just how lucky we are to currently be in such a safe environment.

This is less of a story and more so adding on to the damage that was created. In Turkey one of their major highways had cracked and split in half due to the strength of this earthquake, which led to many cars falling through and flipping over.

This story takes place around 2-3 days after the event. A man was found by a new reporter, slightly wounded and holding a little girls hand. He later revealed to the journalist that this is his daughter who had passed during the earthquake and he had refused to leave her and stop holding her hand until someone found them and was able to assist in the moving of her body as he did not want to leave her there.




Now the effects in Lebanon were slightly less severe. As I previously said I do have family and friends in Lebanon so I will be sharing their experiences. The effects of the earthquake were felt less and due to the timing in which this had taken place (around 4am their time) my cousin was able to just sleep through it. However, this was not the case for my aunt. She was at her mother’s house looking after my grandmother. She was unsure what it had been at first, but it definitely left her afraid. Many people in Lebanon’s first instinct was it was either a bombing attack (due to sharing borders with a country that are not really friendly with Lebanon) or another explosion. Some may know this but in August 2020 there was a large explosion in Lebanon which led to many casualties. This led to the majority if not all of Lebanon being traumatized to this day, so when they felt the earthquake, their thoughts immediately went to that event.