Earthquake in Turkey, February 6th, 2023

Not Again!

In Turkey the Unthinkable has happened again – a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook the southeastern part of the country and Northern Syria at 4:17 a.m. last night, leaving more than 60,000 dead at the latest count. It is the strongest earthquake to have hit the country since 1999 when almost 20,000 people lost their lives in a 7.4 magnitude quake that struck the Marmara region. This catastrophe has been a grim reminder for the Turkish and Syrian populations of the literal instability of the region, which is one of the most earthquake-prone in the world. Sitting astride several major fault lines, the Anatolian tectonic plate upon which Turkey rests is being squeezed by the African and Arabian plates towards the unyielding Eurasian tectonic plate, which impedes its motion, causing horrible disasters along the fault lines.

There Are No Atheists in Foxholes

Having survived the 1999 quake, which occurred while my wife, our newborn son and I were on holiday in Silivri, about 60 km west of Istanbul, this latest quake has revived all sorts of terrible memories. I recall that it was just after 3 a.m. and I was reading a book on our balcony, overlooking the Marmara Sea. My wife was asleep in our bedroom, while our son, Emre, slept in a small cradle of pillows on the floor of the living room next to me. Suddenly I heard a whooshing sound as if a giant gas leak was issuing from the sea. Next, the windows started rattling and there was the sound of glass breaking as things fell from cupboards and off tables and shelves. I had run into the living room and scooped up my 6-week-old baby boy as soon as I sussed out what was happening. Running to fetch my wife, I met her just as she was leaving the bedroom and we huddled in the doorway as we had been taught. It only lasted 45 seconds but these moments dragged on as if it were an eternity. Car alarms were wailing, people screamed, glass broke, the building convulsed, and the entire time that horrible primal rumbling, GRRRR, GRRRR, GRRRR that you felt to your very core. I am not religious, but as I crouched there cradling my son with one arm while clutching my wife to me with the other, the only thing I could think was “Please Lord, spare our child, he’s only 6 weeks old!”


When the shaking had stopped, we rushed outside to join the others who had fled ours and the surrounding buildings. A kindly neighbor offered my wife and baby son a place in the back seat of his car as the night progressed. Later, watching the sunrise, I remember feeling a sense of elation at having survived.  I felt fully alive as if for the first time in my life. Gratitude coursed through my veins, knowing that my wife and child were safe. I savored the moment, not yet knowing of the scale or the incredible toll of the disaster. As soon as was possible we returned to Istanbul, passing several stricken neighborhoods along the way where the yawning gaps of collapsed buildings seemed like missing teeth in the mouth of a prize fighter who’d just been flattened.

To all those who are suffering in South Eastern Turkey and Northern Syria today, you have my deepest sympathies. Please follow the link to learn how you can help the survivors of this disaster today:

Michael Wray

Hi, My name's Michael. I'm a writer/illustrator working as a primary ESL teacher in Istanbul. I love art, music, literature, and traveling.


  1. Judy Wray on February 6, 2023 at 6:19 pm

    I’m so very sad to see all of the destruction and deaths from this earthquake. I remember well how happy we were to hear from you after that event.

    • Michael Wray on February 6, 2023 at 8:13 pm

      Yes, didn’t think this would happen twice in one lifetime.

  2. Dean on February 6, 2023 at 6:50 pm

    Such sad, sad news.

  3. sasha on February 7, 2023 at 12:31 am

    sorry to hear the troubling news and I’m so glad you are safe, yet again–:)

  4. Kathy on February 7, 2023 at 3:49 pm

    So upsetting Mike. I’m relieved you guys are safe.
    Stay safe!

  5. Susan on February 7, 2023 at 10:00 pm

    Glad you are once again safe. I hope the past experience gives you hope for the survivors of this one. They will need support.

  6. Tess Frech on February 9, 2023 at 3:14 pm

    I can’t even imagine the fear and pain these people are enduring. Holding hope that the worst is over. You are in our thoughts and so glad you are safe.❤

  7. Scott Ray on February 9, 2023 at 7:59 pm

    Excellent article Mike. Thinking of you here…..stay safe my friend.

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