An earthquake is a natural phenomenon like wind and rain. It is a sudden and rapid shaking of the earth caused by the release of energy stored in rocks. Earthquakes have occurred for billions of years in some parts of the world, especially in African, European, and Mediterranean regions. Many stories along the history of man show the considerable impact they have had on human lives and property. Earthquakes are the most terrifying and destructive among the other natural phenomena like rain or wind1. A country like Turkey is a natural laboratory for earth sciences covering one of the most active regions on the earth prone to seismic effects. Due to the complex plate interaction among Arabia, Eurasia, and Africa, there are different fault systems in Anatolia and the surrounding region. The North Anatolian Fault System (NAFS) and the East Anatolian Fault System (EAFS) are the main strike-slip fault belts in Turkey. These fault systems facilitate the westward escape of the Anatolian micro-plate. Normal fault systems are dominant in western and central Anatolia because of the north-south extensional regime in the Aegean2.
On February 6, 2023, in the early hours of Monday, a strong earthquake slammed the southeastern part of Turkey close to the Syrian border, killing more than 4000 people and injuring thousands more3. The extraordinary magnitude earthquake centered in Turkey took place in the world press as “the biggest in the last 84 years.” It was the second biggest destruction that Turkey has experienced in the history of the republic. In an environment where the death toll exceeded 25,000 in the first few days after the earthquake. This region constitutes an important part of Turkey’s industry and trade, is now devastated4. This is a global health problem that needs urgent efforts in limiting further damage, especially on the vulnerable people; children, pregnant women, and the elderly.
This recent earthquake in Turkey which occurred close to the city of Gaziantep was quickly followed by a number of aftershocks, one of which was nearly as large as the initial one. Studies have shown that there are various types of earthquake faults around the world5. Displacement along these fault zones during an earthquake may result in various offsets. Such as; vertical, horizontal, or a combination of the 2. Foreshocks are relatively smaller earthquakes that occur before the largest shock in a series, which is termed the mainshock. Not all mainshocks have foreshocks2. Mainshocks are the largest shock. They are sometimes preceded by one or more foreshocks, and almost always followed by a series of aftershocks. Aftershocks are earthquakes that follow the mainshock. They are smaller than the mainshocks. They occur within an area of radius equal to or less than half the fault length of the mainshock fault. Aftershocks can continue over a period of weeks, months, or years, as we can see in the case of Turkey. In general, the larger the mainshock, the larger and more numerous the aftershocks, and the longer they will continue1,2.
Many people in Turkey and the world at large questioned why this current earthquake was so fatal. It was a significant earthquake; according to the official scale of magnitude, its magnitude was 7.8, classifying it as such. It ruptured along the fault line for around 100 km (62 miles), severely damaging the nearby structures. We anticipate a long recovery period for the share of the region affected by the earthquake in the Turkish economy to recover4. Turkey is likely to go into a major economic crisis in the near future, and as a country that is already in crisis, it will put a lot of pressure on this country5.
It will be very difficult for Turkey to come out of this disaster alone. For this reason, the support provided by the countries of the world to Turkey is necessary and very important. The people of the region, whose welfare level was low even before the earthquake, cannot reach basic life products without support as they are not in a position to earn money in the short term. Many of the shops and factories in the region became unusable. It will take a long time to remove the debris of tens of thousands of buildings and bury the dead, meanwhile, the people of the region are in serious danger as it is added to the hygiene problem of the region. If the world’s countries and international organizations do not support Turkey, Turkey, being one of the world’s 20 largest economies, will trigger major crises globally. It will also be an important test of conscience as well as the faith of the people of the world4.
As the notions of earthquake hazard, vulnerability, and capacity constitute the basis for an efficient strategy of earthquake risk reduction and the operational base for a culture of prevention1. As the occurrence of natural hazards/phenomena cannot be avoided, at least in the present state of our knowledge and ability; however, the impact of such events on humans and their proprieties can be reduced. Earthquake risk or damage reduction concerns all the measures taken before the next earthquake, which leads to reduce the consequences of such an event. An example of a tool to reduce the physical impacts on buildings is the seismic design code. Global health actions to reducing the negative impact of earthquake hazards are called earthquake prevention. These preventive measures are permanent and for the long term and are implemented before the earthquake disaster1.
The implementation of procedures and practices to reduce earthquake vulnerabilities and damage throughout a community/ society, to avoid (prevention), or to reduce (mitigation and preparedness) the negative impact of earthquake hazards are necessary1. These actions involve the people in that community/society and organizations to use existing resources to face abnormal, unusual, and adverse conditions of a disaster event are known as disaster management capacity1. While the capacity of a community or society to defend itself and recover from a disaster is called resilience1–3. Another tool to reduce earthquake risk is the early-warning. Early warning provides timely and effective information, through recognized institutions, that let individuals at risk of a disaster to take action to avoid or reduce their risk and prepare for effective response1.
In the case of Turkey’s present devastating earthquake, humanitarian services are highly recommended all over the world1–5. As part of the global action, emergency response team from all the neighboring countries such as Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Greece, and Bulgaria, including the world’s powerful countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Germany, Russia, Japan, and Korea should dispatch as soon as possible to the incident scene. These countries should provide medical aid and supplies as well as food items, and clothes for all the victims affected by the earthquake. They should also take these victims as refugees in their countries to relieve them from their troubles. The World Health Organization (WHO) in collaborations with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and other NGOs and civil organizations in the world should work harnessable with the Turkish government in providing relief funds, shelter, clothing, including food for the victims affected by the earthquake. Also, the World Medical Association (WMA) in collaborations with the National Medical Associations (NMA), including Medical Students Associations (MSAs) should deploy medical experts, health volunteers, medical students, nurses, psychologists, social workers, etc., to Turkey as soon as possible to treat the injured ones and prevent further complications as a result of the earthquake.
Finally, we recommend swift military protections by the Turkish government and also from the powerful Nations for the victims in Turkey as most of the vulnerable citizens are more in danger from other problems. Such as; sexual assault, child abuse, child trafficking, etc. Overall, all global health efforts should be harnessed adequately during this trying time for the Turkish population.
Sources of funding
M.O.O.: conceptualization of ideas; manuscript preparation; review with comments. E.Y. and A.B.S.: data curation. A.A.: administrative support. All authors contributed in the writing and final approval of the manuscript.
Conflict of interest disclosure
The authors declare that they have no financial conflict of interest with regard to the content of this report
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1. Benouar D. Earthquake Risk in Africa; A school ’ s guide. Univ Sci Technol Houari Boumediene BP 32 El-Alia, Bab Ezzouar, Alger 16111, Alger. 1–40.
2. Tan O, Tapirdamaz MCZ, Yörük A. The earthquake catalogues for Turkey. Turkish J Earth Sci 2008;17:405–18.
3. Expert-reaction-to-the-earthquake-near-the-turkey-syria-border. 2023. Accessed February 7, 2023. https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-the-earthquake-near-the-turkey-syria-border/