The situation in Turkey after the 7.8 and 7.5-magnitude earthquakes and the aftershocks is devastating. Over 20,000 people have died, tens of thousands of people are injured, and thousands of buildings have collapsed. At the moment, there are rescue teams across the country assisting citizens in the most affected areas.
Turkey is currently in a state of emergency and recovering from the natural disaster. Governments and institutions across the world have been taking action to help and advise people, including travelers. Here’s what travelers should know:
Is It Safe To Travel To Turkey?
It is important to note that the Turkish government has announced its highest state level of emergency. According to recent information shared on CNN, The UK Foreign Office (FCDO) and the government of the United States have shared brief recommendations regarding travel.
FCDO has advised citizens to avoid traveling to Turkey at the moment and urged citizens to “avoid the immediate vicinity”. The U.S. government has instructed travelers to avoid visiting areas affected by the earthquakes, and warned Americans in the country about limited flights, long wait times at the airports—that could exceed 24 hours— and to consider road or train alternatives.
Even though main cities like Ankara and Istanbul are hundreds of miles away from the epicenter—Gaziantep— and have not been affected, international rescue and medical teams are arriving through these cities. There are also concerns regarding aftershocks, and the U.S. Embassy warned that “large aftershocks continue and are likely through the coming days.”
Travelers should also double-check their upcoming flights since many have been canceled. Most international airlines are still operating flights to Turkey, but the national flag carrier, Turkish Airlines, canceled hundreds of flights due to recent events along with bad weather conditions in Istanbul.
The first earthquake took place in the city of Gaziantep, and the second one was only 80 miles to the north, in the Kahramanmaras province. In total, 10 provinces have been seriously affected: Adana, Adıyaman, Diyarbakır, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa. Tremors have also had a damaging impact on Syria and were felt in Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Lebanon, and Palestine.
Travelers must avoid the Syrian-Turkish border and reconsider travel to certain destinations. According to recent information shared by France 24, these ancient cities were devastated after the earthquakes:
- Antakya/Antioch: The capital of Hatay Province has been deeply affected by the earthquakes. This ancient city, founded in 300 BC, had impressive structures—like temples and theaters— that are now in ruins.
- Sanliurfa: This beautiful Turkish city home to the Gobekli Tepe—a UN World Heritage Site— has also been devastated. This historic area was already hit by war, and now the situation has worsened.
Very close to the border, the Syrian city of Aleppo—one of the oldest cities in the world and the country’s second-largest city— has also been affected by earthquakes.
Turkey is on many traveler’s bucket lists—including Travel Off Path team members’ top destinations for 2023— and due to its increasing popularity in the past few months, new routes and direct flights from the United States have been added by Turkish Airlines.
Tourism to this beautiful country has increased, and the Antalya Province received 66% more travelers in 2022 than it did in 2019. Despite the U.S. government travel warnings related to terrorism and arbitrary detentions, many travelers were finding a safe environment, especially in Antalya, Istanbul, and Ankara.
However, at the moment, travelers must stay up to date with the current situation and check for updates and relevant information before traveling. As many institutions have warned, the aftershocks are still a major concern, and the state of emergency for the provinces affected has been announced for three months.
In the meantime, travelers can also donate and send help through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the White Helmets, the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations, and other organizations taking immediate action. The Turkish Philanthropy Fund is an additional option.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com