Statement on the Earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria
World Monuments Fund (WMF) stands in solidarity with the people of Türkiye and northwest Syria in the wake of two powerful earthquakes that struck in quick succession on Monday, February 6. With a magnitude of 7.8, the first of these was the most powerful earthquake recorded in Türkiye since 1939. The earthquakes, whose epicenters were both located in the Turkish province of Kahramanmaraş, were felt by people across the region, with damage to buildings sustained mainly in the aforementioned countries. The death toll at the time of writing has surpassed 2,000 people, with many more injured.
While the situation is still evolving, there have already been reports of several historic buildings damaged by the earthquakes. The Art Newspaper has reported that Gaziantep Castle, Türkiye, which dated to the Hittite period with later Roman and Byzantine additions, was destroyed, while the dome and eastern wall of the neighboring Şirvani Mosque have collapsed. Gaziantep’s historic water structures were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 2018; no update as to their status is available at the time of writing.
In southern Türkiye, many churches count among the damaged buildings. There are reports of damage to Orthodox churches in Mersin, Arsuz, and İskenderun in Hatay Province, including the Church of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, the nineteenth-century Catholic Church of the Annunciation Church, and the Armenian Church of the Forty Children.
There have also been reports from Syria of damage to archaeological sites in several provinces, as well as moderate damage to the Citadel of Aleppo and the city’s National Museum.
Amidst information flow constraints, WMF will continue to monitor the situation to understand the scale of the damage and any immediate recovery efforts.
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