• Applications

The Space and Disaster Charter Activated for Turkey and Syria

Published on 08 February 2023

The earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria hard on February 6 have already resulted in several thousand deaths. An international charter that pools the use of satellites has been activated to help rescue efforts.

The Space and Disaster Charter Activated for Turkey and Syria

Several earthquakes occurred in Turkey and Syria on February 6. Tremors of more than 7.5 on the Richter scale, followed by more than a hundred aftershocks, caused considerable damage. The next day, Turkey announced just over 3,500 deaths, to which can be added just over 1,600 deaths in Syria. A toll that could unfortunately increase, the Turkish government reporting nearly 5,000 buildings destroyed .

The Space and Major Disasters Charter

During such disasters, satellites can play an essential role . This is why since the year 2000, at the initiative of the French space agency CNES, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), there has been an Space and Major Disasters International Charter. It now brings together seventeen members and partners with a view to sharing as quickly as possible, if necessary, the data captured from orbit that could help when a disaster occurs. The key idea is to use satellites that are already operational for other activities (there is thus no need to build and launch others), to coordinate the collection of their observations and then forward them to rescue authorities.

Image of destroyed housings in Turkey by a Pléiades Neo Airbus satellite after the February 6 earthquake.
© Airbus Space

Map listing the earthquakes of February 6. Stars indicate epicentres in Turkey.
© Screen capture by Cité de l’espace

One of the priorities thus lies in a rapid inventory so that humanitarian organisations can get their bearings on a terrain which has unfortunately often been impacted to the point that previous maps are no longer relevant (collapsed bridges for example). Establishing communications using satellites also makes it possible to replace destroyed ground connection infrastructures and contributes to the coordination of action or telemedicine.

Since its creation, the Charter has been used 798 times and the aid provided to Syria and Turkey constitute the fourth and fifth activations during 2023.

Articles sur le même thème