A massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake centered in southern Turkey killed more than 5,000 people combined in that country and Syria early on Monday, toppling buildings and causing shockwaves felt across the region, including Cyprus, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Israel.
Emergency medical services in Turkey and Syria said that the death toll was expected to rise in both countries as hundreds of people potentially remained trapped under collapsed structures.
The quake struck just after 4 a.m. local time, 23 kilometers (14.3 miles) east of Nurdagi, Gaziantep Province, at a depth of 17.9 kilometers (11.1 miles), and was followed just over 10 minutes later by a 6.7 magnitude aftershock, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Just before 1 p.m. local time another powerful 7.5 magnitude quake struck 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) southeast of Ekinözü, Turkey, at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), said the USGS.
Israelis reported feeling both tremors in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and throughout the North.
“On behalf of all citizens of Israel, I send condolences to the citizens of Turkey at this difficult time following the earthquake that struck our region. At the request of the Turkish government, I have instructed all the authorities to immediately prepare for the provision of medical and search and rescue assistance,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.
“A request was also received to do this for the many who were injured in the earthquake in Syria,” added the premier, and therefore he “instructed that this be done as well.”
President Isaac Herzog said, “I am deeply saddened by the enormous disaster that has befallen Türkiye following last night’s earthquake. My condolences to President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and the Turkish people for the loss of life and destruction of livelihoods.
“The State of Israel always stands ready to assist in every way possible. Our hearts are with the grieving families and the Turkish people at this painful moment,” he added.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday instructed his ministry and the IDF to immediately ready emergency aid to be sent to Turkey under the auspices of the Home Front Command.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli convened a meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on Monday morning to discuss ways to provide aid to Turkey.
“On behalf of the State of Israel, I would like to express deep sorrow to the Turkish people for the severe earthquake that struck southern Turkey tonight,” said Cohen, adding: “Our hearts go out to the victims, and we wish the injured a speedy recovery.”
The quakes are some of the strongest to hit Turkey in the last 100 years, said the USGS, which recorded at least 19 additional quakes of 4.0 magnitude or greater in the region in the immediate hours following the first major tremblor.