Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency in 10 of the country’s provinces Tuesday.
Turkey, and neighboring Syria, are reeling from two consecutive earthquakes — the region’s strongest in nearly a century — that have devastated huge swathes of territory, taking lives and buildings with it.
At time of writing, the death toll from the quakes is above 5,000, with many still missing and critically injured. And shortly after the seismic disaster left tens of thousands of people homeless, a brutal winter storm set in, threatening yet more lives.
The quakes, which took place nine hours apart and measured 7.8 and 7.5 on the Richter scale, respectively, destroyed at least 6,000 buildings, many while people were still inside them. Rescue efforts are continuing — Turkey’s government has deployed nearly 15,000 search and rescue personnel — and countries around the world have pledged aid, but emergency workers in both countries say they are completely overwhelmed.
Syria, already crippled from years of war and terrorism, is the least prepared for such a crisis. The affected regions are home to thousands of internally displaced people already living in dire conditions like tents and makeshift shacks, with very little health and emergency service infrastructure to rely on.
With the dust of the catastrophe still settling, regional analysts are zoning in on the longer-term impacts it could have on Turkey, a country whose 85 million-strong population was already mired in economic problems — and whose military, economy, and president have a major impact far beyond its borders.
BDST: 1856 HRS, FAB 07, 2023