Greece-Turkey earthquake: At least 19 dead after huge 7.0-magnitude tremor collapses buildings

Alastair Jamieson and Conrad Duncan
·3 min read
 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A major 7.0-magnitude earthquake rattled the Aegean Sea on Friday, killing at least 19 people across Turkey and Greece as buildings crashed down and tidal waves slammed islands and coastal areas.

In the western Turkish city of Izmir, residents ran on to the streets in panic as clouds of dust erupted from the rubble.

Search and rescue operations were under way at 17 collapsed or damaged buildings in the city, and authorities set up tents near areas with the highest damage.

The district of Seferihisar was struck by a small tsunami that sent seawater inland, flooding streets and leaving behind debris and fish.

Videos on social media showed refrigerators, chairs and tables floating past stranded cars.

On the Greek holiday island of Samos, two teenagers, a boy and a girl, were found dead in an area where a wall had collapsed.

Islanders were urged to stay away from coastal areas.

“It was a very big earthquake, it’s difficult to have a bigger one,” Eftyhmios Lekkas, head of Greece’s organisation for anti-seismic planning, told Skai TV.

“We have never experienced anything like it,” said George Dionysiou, a local mayor. “People are panicking.”

Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said at least 709 people were injured.

Ilke Cide, a doctoral student who was in Izmir’s Guzelbahce region during the earthquake, said he went inland after waters rose.

“I am very used to earthquakes... so I didn’t take it very seriously at first but this time it was really scary,” he said, adding the earthquake had lasted for at least 25-30 seconds.

Turkey and Greece are among the most earthquake-prone countries in the world.

More than 17,000 were killed in August 1999 when a 7.6 magnitude quake struck Izmit, southeast of Istanbul.

In a rare show of solidarity after months of territorial disputes, Greek and Turkish government officials issued mutual messages of support.

Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he had called Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to offer “condolences”.

“Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together,” he said.

Erdogan responded to the tweet with his thanks and offered his condolences.

“Turkey, too, is always ready to help Greece heal its wounds. That two neighbours show solidarity in difficult times is more valuable than many things in life,” he wrote.

The earthquake struck at 2:51 pm local time (11.51am GMT) northeast of Samos. 

It was felt across the eastern Greek islands and as far as the Greek capital, Athens, and in Bulgaria. In Turkey, it shook the regions of Aegean and Marmara, including Istanbul. Istanbul’s governor said there were no reports of damage there.

Greek seismologist Akis Tselentis told Greek state broadcaster ERT that potentially powerful aftershocks could be expected for several weeks and warned that buildings could collapse.

In Turkey, more than 2,000 rescue personnel were sent to Izmir, as well as relief supplies. The Turkish Red Crescent set up kitchens.

Additional reporting by Reuters and Associated Press

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