Turkey earthquakes: Travel warnings, appeals and what tourists need to know

 Thursday, February 9, 2023 


Travellers should avoid heading to Syria and parts of Turkey, UK authorities have warned – but would-be helpers can donate money instead.

More than 11,000 people have died after a devastating earthquake struck Turkey and Syria on Monday.

The World Health Organisation has warned that the death toll could reach 20,000.

The 7.8 magnitude tremor – and subsequent powerful aftershocks – wrought mass destruction across several cities, downing 4,700 buildings.

As rescuers race against the clock to save survivors from the rubble, travellers have been advised to stay away.

But there are plenty of ways to help from afar. Here’s everything you need to know.

Where did the earthquake strike?

The Kahramanmaras earthquake was felt throughout southeast Turkey and north Syria. The first earthquake hit the southeastern city of Gaziantep at 4.17am local time.

A second quake – with a 7.5 magnitude – struck hours later between the cities of Ekinözü and Malatya. Throughout Monday, surrounding regions were hit by at least 20 aftershocks.

Can you travel to Turkey and Syria?

Turkey’s most populous cities – Ankara and Istanbul – are in the west of the country, hundreds of kilometres away. Travel to these cities and areas like the Aegean coast is operating as normal.

However, travel to the earthquake zone is difficult and unadvisable.

The UK foreign office has urged travellers to “avoid the immediate vicinity” of the incident.

This advice applies to the following Turkish provinces:











Three Turkish airports have closed. Adana Sakirpasa Airport (ADA) and Hatay Airport (HTY) have shut after runway damage.

Gaziantep Oğuzeli International Airport (GZT) has closed to all civilian flights, but continues to service rescue flights. More than 2,600 search personnel from 65 nations have arrived in Turkey.

Most foreign offices already had travel warnings in place for Syria, which has been wracked by civil war for a decade.

Have heritage sites been damaged by the earthquake?

Various cultural attractions have been badly damaged by the earthquake.

UNESCO – the United Nations’ cultural agency – is “particularly concerned” about the ancient city of Aleppo in Syria, a spokesperson said.

The Citadel of Aleppo, a large medieval palace in the centre of the city, has been “significantly damaged.”

In Turkey, buildings at the Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens have collapsed. This is a world heritage site dating back more than 2,000 years.

How can you help people in Turkey and Syria?

Thousands of rescuers are heading to Turkey and Syria – but there are plenty of ways to help from afar.

Charities and NGOs like the Red Cross, Save the Children, and Islamic Relief are dedicating aid to the humanitarian response.

Several companies are doing their part. A company has launched an emergency appeal and committed £58,000 (€65,000) to the rescue efforts.

The appeal raised AU $45,000 (€29,200) within just 24 hours.

Private individuals are using the web to chip in. According to an online fundraising platform, more than 1,500 online fundraising pages have already been set up to help victims of the disaster.

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