Thousands of people have died and tens of thousands of others were injured by the devastating earthquakes that rocked Turkey and Syria on Monday.
Rescue teams are still desperately searching for signs of life beneath the rubble of collapsed buildings amid grim conditions, but days on from the massive tremblor, the chances of finding survivors lessen with every passing hour.
Here’s what we know about the quake and why it was so deadly.
Where did the earthquake hit?
One of the most powerful earthquakes to hit the region in a century rocked residents from their slumber in the early hours of Monday morning around 4 a.m. The 7.8 magnitude quake struck 23 kilometers (14.2 miles) east of Nurdagi, in Turkey’s Gaziantep province, at a depth of 24.1 kilometers (14.9 miles), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said.
A series of aftershocks reverberated through the region in the immediate hours after the initial incident. A magnitude 6.7 aftershock followed 11 minutes after the first quake hit, but the largest temblor, which measured 7.5 in magnitude, struck about nine hours later. More than 125 aftershocks have been recorded so far.
Rescuers are now racing against time and the elements to pull survivors out from under debris on both sides of the border. More than 5,700 buildings in Turkey have collapsed, according to the country’s disaster agency.
Monday’s quake was also one of the strongest that Turkey has experienced in the last century – a 7.8 magnitude quake hit the east of the country in 1939, which resulted in more than 30,000 deaths, according to the USGS.
Why was this one so deadly?
A number of factors have contributed to making this earthquake so lethal. One of them is the time of day it occurred. With the quake hitting early in the morning, many people were in their beds when it happened, and are now trapped under the rubble of their homes.
Additionally, with a cold and wet weather system moving through the region, poor conditions have made reaching affected areas trickier, and rescue and recovery efforts on both sides of the border significantly more challenging once teams have arrived.
Temperatures have been bitterly low, plummeting several degrees below zero on several occasions.
With scattered showers and snow in the region set to continue, the elements are putting the lives of those trapped underneath the rubble – who have already gone days without food and water – at risk of hypothermia. Meanwhile, officials have asked residents to leave buildings for their own safety amid concerns of more aftershocks.