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How the earthquakes in Turkey wiped out the city of Antakya

The center of Antakya shows the mass destruction of the city in the aftermath of the Feb. 6 earthquakes. (Video: TWP, Photo: Salwan Georges/TWP)

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Antakya has become a city of ghosts.

A thriving modern metropolis of nearly 400,000 people — and a cradle of Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman history — belongs now to the birds and earth-moving machines.

The two massive earthquakes on Feb. 6 spread destruction across southern Turkey, but the devastation in Antakya stands out. The view from the night sky shows how a vibrant city went dark.


Highlighted areas

show night-time lights

visible from space

Satellite imagery

shows Antakya going

dark following

earthquake

Source: NASA Black Marble

JANICE KAI CHEN/THE WASHINGTON POST

Highlighted areas

show night-time lights

visible from space

Satellite imagery

shows Antakya going

dark following

earthquake

Source: NASA Black Marble

JANICE KAI CHEN/THE WASHINGTON POST

Highlighted areas

show night-time lights

visible from space

Satellite imagery

shows Antakya going

dark following

earthquake

Source: NASA Black Marble

JANICE KAI CHEN/THE WASHINGTON POST

Highlighted areas

show night-time lights

visible from space

Satellite imagery

shows Antakya going

dark following

earthquake

Source: NASA Black Marble

JANICE KAI CHEN/THE WASHINGTON POST

Most striking is the sense of abandonment — of countless lives suddenly interrupted — as survivors fled the city with whatever they could carry, leaving passports in the drawer, family pictures on the wall and laundry hanging on the line.

“Antakya bitti,” the lament goes. “Antakya is finished.”

The Turks say Kurtulus Street was the first in history to be illuminated at night. It remained alive at all hours in modern times, a shopping area dotted with antique stores, restaurants and homes.

On one end of the street is Habib-i Neccar, one of Anatolia’s oldest mosques, now in ruins. On the other end is St. Pierre Church, already hundreds of years old when Christian crusaders oversaw an e