By Mark Dovich
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan offered Syria and Turkey assistance Monday after a powerful earthquake struck the Syria-Turkey border overnight, leaving at least 600 people dead and 3,000 more injured.
“Saddened by the news of the devastating earthquake in Türkiye and Syria,” Pashinyan wrote on Twitter. “Armenia is ready to provide assistance.”
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck near the Turkish city of Gaziantep in the early hours of Monday morning, leveling scores of buildings and killing many residents as they slept. Nearby areas in southern Turkey and northern Syria were also devastated.
Vahan Hunanyan, a spokesperson for Armenia’s Foreign Ministry, said on Facebook that at least two Syrian Armenians were among the dead.
Hundreds of people are believed to remain trapped under the rubble, and the death toll is expected to rise significantly in the coming hours and days.
The United States Geological Survey said the toll could reach as high as 10,000 people. It is one of the most powerful earthquakes to strike the region in a century.
A number of European countries and the United States have pledged their support following the earthquake. Rescue teams from Azerbaijan and the European Union are reportedly already en route to Turkey.
Armenia and Turkey recognize each other but have no formal diplomatic ties. The two countries’ border has been closed since the early 1990s, and relations remain tense to this day.
Efforts to normalize relations took on a new life in late 2021, when Yerevan and Ankara appointed special envoys for talks.
Pashinyan met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the first time last October at a summit in Prague.DONATE