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Satellites support impact assessment after Türkiye–Syria earthquakes


Türkiye and Syria are reeling from one of the worst earthquakes to strike the region in almost a century. Tens of thousands of people have been killed with many more injured in this tragedy.

Satellite data are being used to help emergency aid organisations, while scientists have begun to analyse ground movement – aiding risk assessments that authorities will use as they plan recovery and reconstruction, as well as long-term research to better model such events.

The initial 7.8-magnitude tremor in southeast Türkiye and northern Syria was followed by another of 7.7 magnitude – causing widespread destruction in both countries. The death toll from the earthquakes has risen to more than 33 000 as of today, with death toll continuing to rise as rescuers scramble to search for survivors trapped beneath the rubble.

The initial earthquake on 6 February, one of the most powerful seismic quakes that the region has experienced in the last century, emanated from a fault line approximately 18 km below the surface. This shallow depth meant the earthquake produced violent shaking that affected areas hundreds of kilometres from the epicentre, around 23 km east of Nurdagi, Gaziantep province.

The second quake followed around nine hours later, striking the Turkish town of Ekinözü, around 60 km to the north, with hundreds of smaller aftershocks occurred in subsequent days.

First response

In response, Turkish authorities, along with the United Nations and the International Federation Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies, activated the International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’. By combining Earth observation assets from different space agencies, the Charter provides satellite images of the affected areas to define the extent of the disaster and support local teams with their rescue efforts.

Following the activation, more than 350 crisis images from 17 space agencies across the world were delivered. They can be used to generate damage and situation maps to help estimate the hazard impact and manage relief actions in the affected areas.

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