March 4. 2024. 7:34

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’Disaster of the century’: Images from the fault line


The two devastating earthquakes hit the Türkiye-Syrian border last month.

The first one, with a magnitude of 7.7, had its centre about 34 kilometres west of the city of Gaziantep. Nine hours later, a second, 7.6 magnitude earthquake, occurred 95 kilometres north-northwest from the first, in the Kahramanmaraş Province.

Followed by over 15,000 aftershocks, the earthquakes were catastrophic, causing widespread damage in southern and central Türkiye and northern and western Syria. An area of 110,000 square kilometres was affected, roughly the size of Bulgaria. 12,000 buildings collapsed, 49,000 people have died and millions more were left homeless.

To honour the victims, survivors, as well as the over 10,000 first responders, a carefully curated photographic exhibition has opened at the Press Club in Brussels.It runs for a week from 20 March.

Over 100 diplomats, journalists, EU civil servants and friends from Türkiye attended the event organised by Ipek Tekdemir.

Tekdemir, the exhibition’s curator, commented: “The powerful and thought-provoking images capture the destruction and devastation caused by one of the most significant natural disasters in recent history, standing as a testament of the resilience of those affected, the bravery of those who worked to save lives and the power of human compassion and solidarity in the face of adversity.

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"I invite you all to take your time and immerse yourself in these images. Let them inspire you, move you, and challenge you. Let us come together in solidarity and hope, knowing that even in the darkest moments, there is always a glimmer of light that shines through," added Tekdemir.

Azerbaijani pianist Turan Manafzade, one of the most prominent female maestros of the Turkic world, performed at the opening of the exhibition.

The images not only capture the physical destruction, but also the emotional toll that the "disaster of the century" had on the affected communities.

"This exhibition is an opportunity for us to pause, reflect and remember the events that took place. It is also a reminder of the importance of being prepared and taking action to mitigate the effects of natural disasters. We must work together to build stronger and more resilient communities, so that we can face the challenges of the future with strength and unity", Tekdemir shared.

On the same day, at the International Donors’ Conference organised by the European Commission and the Swedish Presidency of the Council, a total of €7 billion were pledged by the international community, out of which the commission alone will support Türkiye with €1 billion for the post-earthquake reconstruction and Syria with €108 million for humanitarian assistance and early recovery.

"I invite all nations and all donors to contribute to honour the memory of the lives lost, to honour the heroism of the first responders and to sustain the hope of the survivors," Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during her speech.

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