Tallying the Damages from the February 6 Earthquake
During a March 2 meeting chaired by the Minister of Local Administration and Environment, Syria’s Higher Relief Committee stated that the earthquake had impacted 414,304 people in Syria.
The committee added that 4,444 buildings were unsafe for return and could not be reinforced, while 29,751 buildings needed reinforcement work to be safe. There were 30,113 buildings deemed safe but needing maintenance work and 292 buildings that had been demolished to protect public safety. This survey was conducted in coordination with structural safety teams and technical assistance committees.
During a parliamentary session on February 20, the Minister of Local Administration and Environment said that 199 buildings collapsed during the earthquake.
The affected governorates
It appears from the figures reported by each governorate separately that the number of damaged buildings at risk of collapse is vast and is incommensurate with the number of buildings that collapsed at the moment of the earthquake and that their total is greater than the numbers reported by the Higher Relief Committee. It is also difficult to precisely determine whether all these buildings were damaged by the February 6 earthquake or had suffered previous damages.
The semi-official Al-Watan newspaper published a report on February 27 about the Higher Relief Committee’s branch in Aleppo governorate, stating that the body had examined 11,277 buildings. Of those, 8,600 were deemed structurally sound, while 2,677 were structurally unsound due to the earthquake.
In a February 19 press conference, the Aleppo governorate stated that 53 buildings had collapsed due to the earthquake; The Syria Report found that 50 buildings were located in formerly opposition-held parts of east Aleppo city and many were uninhabited and already at risk of collapse. The other three collapsed buildings were old and in poor condition and located in central Aleppo city. No building collapses were recorded in the city’s western neighbourhoods, which remained relatively protected from armed conflict during the war.
Before the earthquake, most of the buildings that risked falling in Aleppo had previously been damaged by fighting. In November 2022, the Aleppo City Council demolished some of the 1,500 buildings at risk of collapse. These buildings had faced regime bombing damage during the period of opposition control over that part of the city in 2012-2016.
In a March 2 press conference by the Relief Operations Room in Lattakia governorate, the governor said that 27,641 buildings had been inspected. Some 967 buildings had been completely damaged and could not undergo reinforcement work.
According to preliminary official figures issued in the first days after the quake, around 50 buildings in the Lattakia governorate collapsed fully and another 50 buildings partially. On February 14, The Syria Report wrote that at least 50 buildings in the governorate had fully collapsed, including at least 16 in Lattakia city alone.
According to the Hama branch of the Higher Relief Committee and its operations room, by February 27, the governorate had inspected 38,000 homes and shops. Of those, 2,000 buildings were at risk of collapse and required evacuation. Many buildings were deemed safe but had cracks and needed restoration work.
These numbers appear quite extensive and don’t match the only four buildings recorded to have collapsed in Hama during the earthquake. Two of those buildings were in Hama city, one of which was uninhabited, while the other two were in the rural part of the governorate. One apparent explanation is that the Hama governorate classified all buildings that failed to meet structural safety standards as buildings that were damaged in the quake.
A source in Tartous governorate told Al-Watan on February 28 that engineering teams had, to date, inspected 4,000 buildings. Of those buildings, 117 were homes that needed to be demolished and 587 needed reinforcement.
Dozens of old homes had partially collapsed in the area around Al-Qadmous Castle due to the earthquake. Other homes in the main souk of Baniyas city also faced damage.