‘A crisis within multiple crises’: Amid ongoing civil war, Syrians face mass casualties from 7.8-magnitude quake

AMMAN, Jordan (OSV News) — Catholic and other humanitarian agencies are calling Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake and a second tremor striking southern Turkey and northern Syria “tragic,” and are appealing for aid. They are assisting Syrians in the north of the country — people affected by more than a decade of civil war.

“The situation in Aleppo is dangerous. Many buildings have fallen and digging continues relentlessly through the rubble. So far, we have lost 40 buildings which have collapsed in the earthquake,” Andrea Avveduto, communications chief for Pro Terra Sancta, told OSV News.

More than 700 are reported dead and thousands more injured and missing in Syria as of 10 a.m. Eastern. In southern Turkey and Syria combined, the death toll reached more than 5,000 as of early morning hours on Tuesday and is expected to rise as people are still trapped under the rubble.

In the region surrounding the northwestern city of Aleppo, “a lot of people fled their homes fearing more aftershocks and went to the Franciscan convent in Aleppo to shelter. They fear returning home,” Avveduto explained. “We have more than 200 people in our Terra Sancta College seeking safety. We’re providing them with food and everything that they need. Now, it is very cold, they don’t have gas or electricity.”

Shocks from the earthquakes hit a number of cities in Syria, including Aleppo, Idlib, Homs, Hama and Latakia, also affecting internally displaced people across Syria’s north.

For the full OSV News story, see your local Catholic news source.