Gaziantep Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Turkey, has been heavily damaged after a powerful earthquake and aftershocks rocked the country’s south on Monday morning.
“Some of the bastions in the east, south and southeast parts of the historical Gaziantep Castle in the central Şahinbey district were destroyed by the earthquake, the debris was scattered on the road,” Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu reported.
“The iron railings around the castle were scattered on the surrounding sidewalks. The retaining wall next to the castle also collapsed. In some bastions, large cracks were observed.”
The dome and eastern wall of the historical Şirvani Mosque, which is located next to the castle and is said to have been built in the 17th century, also partially collapsed, it added.
According to archaeological excavations, the castle was first built as a watchtower in the Roman period in II-IV centuries A.D and expanded over time.
It took its current form in between 527-565 A.D. during the period of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, according to Turkish Museums, the official site of museums and archaeological sites in the country.
More than 500 people have been killed and some 3,000 others injured in Turkey and Syria after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit southern Turkey early Monday.
Rescuers are now frantically searching for survivors after the powerful quake shook the region, causing multiple aftershocks and sending tremors as far away as Lebanon and Israel.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Major disaster: The quake struck 23 kilometers (14.2 miles) east of Nurdagi in Turkey’s Gaziantep province, at a depth of 24.1 kilometers (14.9 miles), and is one of the strongest to hit the region in more than 100 years, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.
- The victims: At least 284 people have died and more than 2,300 others were injured in Turkey, officials said. In neighboring Syria, at least 237 people died and 639 others were injured, state media reported, citing the Health Ministry. USGS estimated the total death toll could reach as high as 10,000 people.
- Devastating aftermath: The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) said their hospitals in Syria “are overwhelmed with patients filling the hallways,” while the White Helmets, also known as the Syrian Civil Defense, declared the northwest of the country as a “disaster area.”
- Survivors’ accounts: Journalist Eyad Kourdi, who lives in Gaziantep, told CNN there were up to eight “very strong” aftershocks in under a minute after the quake. Dr. Mazen Kewara, SAMS Middle East director, said he was sheltering in his car with his family “in very very heavy weather” after the quake. They were sleeping “when we started to feel everything shaking around us,” he said.
- Rescue efforts: The Netherlands and Israel are among countries to pledge support after Turkey’s disaster agency appealed for help from the international community. Meanwhile, nearly 1,000 search and rescue volunteers have been deployed from Istanbul to southern Turkey, officials said.
- Freezing conditions: Poor weather, including snow and sub-zero temperatures, is likely to hamper the rescue efforts as a cold and wet weather system moves through the region. Temperatures will drop Tuesday, with the low in Gaziantep expected to fall to -6 degrees Celsius (21 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Global support: Leaders from the US, India, Pakistan and Ukraine have offered condolences and pledged support following the disaster. White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the US was “profoundly concerned” about the destruction.