A deadly magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria early on Monday, February 6, with early reports showing more than 7,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands more injured. As search and rescue efforts continue and people are pulled from the rubble, the full scope of lives lost will continue to climb.
This quake is one of the strongest to hit the region in over 100 years, causing millions living in surrounding countries – including Israel which sits 600 miles away – to feel the earth shake. At least 78 aftershocks have been felt across the region since the first quake, including a major one measuring magnitude 7.5. Images and videos from the region have been uncovering the tragic scale of the disaster, showing entire city blocks flattened by the quake.
The local response in northern Syria is further complicated several factors, including a decade-long conflict, ongoing refugee and humanitarian crisis in this region of the world, and winter weather.
According to the UNHCR, Syria remains the world’s largest refugee crisis. More than 6.8 million Syrians have been forced to flee their country since 2011, with another 6.9 million people living internally displaced. The earthquake heavily impacted north-west Syria, a region where 4.1 million people depend on humanitarian assistance today. The majority are women and children.
Freezing weather conditions are further endangering survivors and complicating rescue and recovery efforts, with thousands living on the streets in fear of more powerful aftershocks impacting their homes. Turkey’s disaster agency has appealed for help from the international community as it conducts search and rescue operations.
Send Relief’s Response
Send Relief is working with local partners in Syria and Turkey to respond to immediate needs following the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks. Send Relief partners have already begun distributing blankets, water bottles, food and other emergency supplies on the ground in communities impacted by the disaster and displaced from their homes. In the first 24 hours of the response, partners have distributed 1,000 blankets and 5,000 bottles of water.
The most-pressing immediate needs for impacted communities are access to food, clean water, trauma care, temporary shelter, medical care and evacuation.
“Turkey’s disaster agency has appealed for help from the international community as it conducts search and rescue operations, and we thank the Lord that He is allowing Send Relief’s international relief team to respond as initial needs are assessed,” said Paul Chitwood, IMB president.
Chitwood and Bryant Wright, Send Relief president, are calling on believers to pray for those affected by the devastation.
“Please pray that the people who are ministered to will experience the love of Christ in the days ahead,” Bryant Wright said in comments emailed to Baptist Press.
Southern Baptists are asked to pray today:
- For local search and rescue teams as they continue rescuing residents trapped under rubble.
- For those needing shelter in Turkey and Syria.
- For those grieving in the loss of loved ones in the disaster.
- For many who have been displaced during the cold of winter and are sleeping in freezing temperatures outside.
- For those in Syria, who have already been living in the crisis of ongoing violence and conflict, who now have been impacted by natural disaster that only compounds the suffering of northern Syria.
- For believers in the affected areas as they seek to minister in the crisis.
- For Send Relief and responding partners as they seek to bring help and hope to those affected.
- For responding partners and their families as many of them have experienced trauma in the disaster.
- For assessment and responding partners as they travel into affected areas and for traveling safety.
- For wisdom for the Send Relief team and partners as they make response decisions.
Give today to support relief efforts.