Menu Close

Forecast podcast: New earthquakes rattle Turkey and Syria as death toll nears 50,000

Aerial photo of a neighborhood in Turkey with about 80% of the buildings collapsed. Only two buildings standing appear to have little damage.

Editors Jimmy Lovaas and Halima Mansoor discuss the devastating earthquakes in southern Turkey near the Syria border that have left thousands dead and millions displaced, plus more on the anniversary of Russia’s full invasion of Ukraine, a general election in Nigeria, a US Supreme Court hearing on Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan and California ending its coronavirus state of emergency.

Subscribe to the show: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and many more

These stories and others are also available in our free weekly Forecast newsletter.

This episode was produced with work from Factal editors Alex Moore, Irene Villora, Jeff Landset, Hua Hsieh and Halima Mansoor.  Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe

Have feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed? Drop us a note:

Factal Forecast podcast transcript

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.


Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.

Today is Feb. 23

In this week’s Forecast we’ve got the anniversary of Russia’s full invasion of Ukraine, a general election in Nigeria, a US Supreme Court hearing on Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, California ending its coronavirus state of emergency and a look at the earthquakes in the Turkey-Syria border region that have left thousands dead and millions displaced. 

You can also read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you can find a link to in the show notes.

One year anniversary of full invasion of Ukraine

Information compiled by Alex Moore

JIMMY: Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of Russia’s full invasion of Ukraine.

Of course, the full invasion came eight years after annexing Crimea and invading Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. 

And while Russia has failed in its attempt to capture the capital Kyiv, the war continues to be extremely active along the frontlines ranging from Ukraine’s east to its south. 

Ukraine’s education ministry has also urged all schools to go remote coinciding with the anniversary in preparation for possible Russian missile strikes well past the frontlines.

Now, comprehensive war settlements remain elusive, and Russia’s widely anticipated offensive in Ukraine’s east has begun in earnest

Heavy clashes are already underway across multiple fronts of the line of contact, including fighting over the key city of Bakhmut

Finally, in a state of the nation speech earlier this week, Putin also announced that Russia would suspend its involvement in New START. 

That’s the final remaining treaty between the United States and Moscow regulating each other’s respective strategic nuclear forces. 

And while Russia’s foreign ministry indicated Moscow would continue to operate within the treaty’s nuclear force limits, the suspension marks another blow to the treaty’s inspections regime as well as broader attempts at arms control between the two sides.

Nigeria general election

Information compiled by Irene Villora

JIMMY: Nigerians will elect their new president and representatives for parliament on Saturday. It’s a vote that is expected to be close and contested.

The vote is also taking place amid a climate of violence, including a surge of gang activity, kidnappings of civilians, and Islamist and separatist groups conducting attacks. 

One of voters’ main concerns is economic insecurity linked to inflation of more than 21 percent, high levels of unemployment and a cash crisis. 

Now, this election will be counted by new technology implemented by the National Electoral Commission to avoid electoral fraud. 

Especially important considering more than 93 million people are registered to vote. They’ll be choosing between 18 presidential candidates with three main favorites in opinion polls: Bola Ahmed Tinubu of All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party. 

And for the first time since the country’s return to democratic rule, no candidates are incumbents or former military leaders. 

Some 469 parliament seats are also up for a vote. 

If no candidate reaches the necessary majority, a runoff will take place on March 11, along with the state governors election.

SCOTUS hearing Biden student loan debt arguments

Information compiled by Jeff Landset

JIMMY: The US Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday on whether it is legal for the government to erase billions of dollars of student loan debt.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. has paused payments on student loans and consistently extended that program for years. 

In August, President Joe Biden announced a plan to forgive up to $20,000 of student loan debt for most borrowers. 

Lower courts have stopped the plan from taking effect by saying the Department of Education doesn’t have the legal authority to cancel these debts.

Now, whatever the conservative majority court decides, it will have large impacts on the American people as well as the judicial branch of the government. 

A majority of borrowers say they may not be able to afford to resume their loan payments when they’re set to restart in June. 

Finally, according to the solicitor general, a decision against Biden could also give states the “standing to challenge almost any federal policy.” 

That could lead to nearly every major political policy being decided before the Supreme Court.

California ends its coronavirus state of emergency

Information compiled by Hua Hsieh

JIMMY: California will end its coronavirus state of emergency on Tuesday. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in October 2022 that California would end the nearly three-year-old state of emergency in February, one month after President Joe Biden announced the nationwide emergency will end this coming May. 

According to state records, more than 60 percent of the state’s population is vaccinated with two shots of a coronavirus vaccine. 

And with deaths and hospitalizations reduced, the governor said the state is ready to continue fighting coronavirus with the infrastructure and processes built during the last few years.

Now, California’s emergency declaration has been the basis of more than 500 policy measures currently in place, and the state’s government has released a statewide plan as a guide for moving into the next phase of the pandemic. 

Officials are now aiming to treat coronavirus as a “manageable issue”’ rather than a crisis. 

This phaseout is not only reflective of the progress of the coronavirus pandemic in California, but also indicative of how officials and the public will go on approaching the pandemic in the United States as a whole.

Aftershocks in Turkey-Syria

Information compiled by Halima Mansoor

JIMMY: Our last item for this forecast is a look at the recent earthquakes in southern Turkey that have left thousands dead and millions displaced. For more on that I spoke with Factal Senior Editor Halima Mansoor.

JIMMY: Hello, Halima

HALIMA: Hi, Jimmy.

JIMMY: Halima, you were just on the podcast a couple weeks ago briefing us on deadly quakes in southern Turkey and sadly here we are again. I guess, you know to start, what’s the latest?

HALIMA: Well, thanks for having me here again. You’re right, we’re just two weeks past the Feb. 6 earthquakes, the ones that devastated provinces in southern Turkey near the Syrian border and if we attempt to understand the scale of loss by looking at official numbers, that in itself is more than 42,000 people killed in Turkey, with another 3,500 dead in Syria. Plus, many thousands more injured. Unfortunately the latest is that a magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit the same region, this time originating in Hatay province, early Monday morning Turkey time. It was followed by another earthquake, a 5.8, also in Hatay. So far, six people have died in these and nearly 300 others injured. Both the earthquakes’ epicenters are rather close to Antakya, which is a widely diverse city with deep ancient roots. So what was once a city with churches, mosques and a synagogue is now being described by residents as a ghost city after the last earthquakes.

JIMMY: You know, how have these new quakes impacted recovery and relief efforts from the first pair back on Feb. 6?

HALIMA: The recent earthquakes came around the same time that most provinces were ending rescue efforts and starting projects to remove debris. But in Hatay, there were reports of rescue workers and locals getting stuck or injured as more buildings collapsed in Monday’s earthquake. There is a well-founded fear of entering damaged buildings that have been weakened by shock after shock. Also, there has been no clear answer to what happens to the remains of people who weren’t rescued. There has been no official word on whether Turkey will try to remove all bodies from the debris or will remains come out with debris. People are also wondering if everyone will get identified. So, will everyone get a chance to bury their loved ones?

JIMMY: Well, what’s the biggest concern right now?

HALIMA: I would say the displacement and rebuilding public trust are going hand in hand right now. More than 800,000 people are living in tents. That is in addition to the roughly 3 million people estimated to have left their homes and cities in the aftermath. Some of them had a choice of living with family, but the rest are living in tents and containers and, according to some reports, until fairly recently some were sleeping in their cars. Now, the Erdogan government plans to start rebuilding in March, but even the hastiest, quickest construction means thousands of people will be living in shelters for months, including the twice-displaced Syrian refugees. That’s a loss of dignity, health, education and possibly jobs in the short and possibly long run

JIMMY: Well, like I always ask, what do you think folks should be watching for next?

HALIMA: One of the questions Turkish people are asking is: Is the still incomplete death toll a result of corruption and lax building codes or is it “destiny” as President Erogan said? We need to watch for whether the Turkish people are willing to trust any building put up in the near future with the same laws and codes and amnesty for skirting those laws and codes. So I’ll leave you with this example: Turkey’s disaster agency is the organ of the state which everybody should have faith in. But right now, there is a debate ongoing on why a man who previously worked in the religious affairs department, has a theology degree, is in the top ranks. The Turkish people have questions, and we really need to see how those are answered.

JIMMY: Well, we are unfortunately running short on time so I think we’ll leave it there for today, but as always I appreciate your time and thanks for keeping us informed. 

HALIMA: Thank you for having me.

JIMMY: Take care.

JIMMY: As always, thank you for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast and newsletter each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. Please subscribe and review wherever you find your podcasts. We’d love it if you’d consider telling a friend about us.  

Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors Alex Moore, Irene Villora, Jeff Landset and Hua Hsieh. Our interview featured editor Halima Mansoor and our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

Until next time, if you have any feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing

This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed. 

Copyright © 2023 Factal. All rights reserved.

Music: ‘Factal Theme’ courtesy of Andrew Gospe

Top photo: Aerial photos captured during U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit show the extent of damage in Turkey’s Hatay province on Feb. 19 following a series of devastating earthquakes on Feb. 6. (Photo: U.S. State Department / Ron Przysucha)

What is Factal?

Trusted by many of the world’s largest companies and nearly 300 humanitarian NGOs, Factal is a risk intelligence and collaboration platform that brings clarity to an increasingly noisy and uncertain world.

Powered by a hybrid of advanced AI and experienced journalists, Factal detects early signals, verifies critical details and assesses the potential impact at the speed of social media. From physical incidents and brand mentions to geopolitical developments, Factal offers the most trusted, real-time risk intelligence on the market.

Factal is also home to the largest security and safety collaboration network in the private sector. Members securely share information with other members in proximity to the same incident, both on and the Factal app.

Learn more at, and we’d love to hear from you.