Aleppo – “Now it is even more important to be close to the people, who are terrorized by this earthquake”. For Jesuit Antoine Audo, Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo, “among the many we have had, this is a disaster that, so to speak, we are not used to. After 12 years of war, this is a new tremendous bomb, lethal and unknown, which falls on us.”
The earthquake that shook southern Turkey and north-central Syria at 4:17 a.m. local time on Monday, February 6, is the most violent in eight centuries. This was reported by Marlène Brax, director of the Lebanese Geophysics Center, interviewed by the Lebanese daily L’Orient-Le Jour. The earthquake had a magnitude 7.8 on the Richter scale, with epicenter located in southern Turkey.
The Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo describes to Fides “a city of two and a half million inhabitants without electricity, water and heating. It is very cold, winter is harsh. I see people in the streets or in cars. They are afraid, they do not know what will happen, because it may not be over, and there are rumors that new strong and devastating tremors may follow”. In fact, A new 7.6 magnitude earthquake tremor was recorded in the southern Turkish province of Kahramanmaras at 1:24 p.m. local time, and was also felt in Damascus.
In Syria, the provisional death toll reported by official Syrian sources, which is unfortunately set to rise, speaks so far of 371 people killed and more than 1,000 injured as a result of the quake. Hundreds more victims are already being counted in Syrian areas outside the control of the government of Damascus.
Churches in the area are also beginning to come to terms with the devastation suffered as a result of the earthquake. In Turkey, Bishop Paolo Bizzeti, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, reported that Iskenderun Cathedral has collapsed, and churches of the Syrian Orthodox and Orthodox communities in that city have also been destroyed. “Here in Aleppo”, Bishop Audo reports to Fides, “Melkite Archbishop Georges Masri has been pulled alive from the rubble, but his Vicar is still under the destroyed building, and they still have not found him”.