Fordham Reacts to Earthquake in Turkey


The Republics of Turkey and Syria were hit with a 7.8 magnitude earthquake earlier this month. (Courtesy of Twitter)

The Republics of Turkey and Syria were hit with a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake earlier this month on Feb. 6, 2023, at approximately 4:15 a.m. The magnitude struck the south-central part of Turkey near the nation’s border with Syria. Just 11 minutes later, there occurred an aftershock with a magnitude of 6.7. The effects of the earthquake were devastating, with its force easily taking down buildings that were not built to withstand such a rare magnitude of an earthquake. In fact, the region has not seen major earthquakes for more than 200 years, nor has it received any warning signs of such an event. On Feb. 21, 2023, Turkey and Syria were hit with another earthquake at a 6.4 magnitude near the city of Antakya, which is near the border of Syria.

According to various sources, the death toll has officially surpassed 40,000 people. Moreover, various other Balkan and European countries have quickly sent aid to the region, including Serbia, North Macedonia, Croatia, Russia, Greece, Germany and France. The Fordham community is also playing a role in helping those in need. On Feb. 8, Dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill Maura Mast, Ph.D., sent a letter, followed by a statement by Father Lito Salazar, S. J., executive director of Campus Ministry, as to how students and faculty can help the people of Turkey and Syria. These resources include psychological services for those at Fordham who have been affected by such events, in addition to charitable agencies with the mission to provide aid to the region.

Most recently on Feb. 16, Aleyna Ölmez was rescued in Kahramanmaraş, a city near the epicenter of the earthquake, after 10 days of being stuck under a pile of rubble. Many call it a “miracle” that she survived for 10 days without any supplies, all while being injured and being forced to withstand freezing weather conditions. Thousands more are being searched for and rescued from other areas of rubble throughout the region.

However, Ölmez was not the only victim who was rescued underneath a pile of rubble. Although she is one of the survivors, others were not so lucky. In fact, professional soccer player Christian Atsu was found in the Hatay province following the collapse of an apartment building. Originally, Atsu was a star in the Premier League and once played for Chelsea and Newcastle United. Ultimately, he was selected to play for the Turkish team, Hatayspor. Although he was scheduled to fly out of southern Turkey days before the incident, he had decided to celebrate with his club upon scoring the winning goal in a Feb. 5 match.

“It is definitely one of the largest humanitarian disasters that have occurred within the past ten years… We all need to do our part to reduce human suffering as a result of this catastrophe,” said Jakub Gul, GSB ’26.

Fordham’s United Student Government released an Instagram statement on Feb. 18 in response to the incident. “As representatives of the student body, we would like to express our full support for all students who are directly and indirectly affected by this disaster and bring sources to those in need… Our Jesuit values as an institution call for us all to be aware of the issues in the world and advocate as citizens for others. Our purpose is to raise our voices and stand in solidarity with those who are suffering.”
For those who wish to support the victims of these events, donations can be made to groups such as: Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children and UNICEF.