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World in Photos: Turkey’s 7.8 earthquake devastates northern Syria as well

The quake matched the strongest-ever to hit Turkey — and caused death and devastation on both sides of the Turkish-Syrian border.

All earthquakes raise immediate questions about magnitude and depth, density of population and building structures in the area, and so forth. The 7.8-magnitude quake that struck Turkey and Syria in the early hours Monday was particularly punishing for several reasons. The tremor — which matched the largest ever recorded in Turkey — hit several densely populated areas with large numbers of concrete and brick buildings vulnerable to collapse. It also struck a region that is home to the world’s largest population of Syrian refugees. And while the magnitude was high, the depth was relatively shallow, increasing the likelihood of death and damage. A second powerful quake of magnitude 7.5 struck nine hours later on a different branch of the area’s fault system, compounding the destruction.

These photos capture a sense of the damage in urban and rural areas, on both the Turkish and Syrian sides of the border. And — as is always the case in such circumstances — there is ample evidence of the human trauma. A lone survivor cries in front of her damaged home in Guzelbahce, Turkey; residents escape a flattened building in Aleppo province in Syria — home to so much war-driven suffering in the past decade; and in Iskenderun, in southern Turkey, a young man named Mehmet Emin Ataoglu emerges from the rubble and meets his rescuers.

There is much more here — including the stunning before-and-after images of the castle at Gaziantep, near the epicenter. As we write, the toll stands at 2,100 dead. But as is often true in the early reporting of such disasters, we must add these necessary few words: The toll is expected to rise.

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