At least 26 people have reportedly died and hundreds have been injured after a strong earthquake of 7.0 Richter Scale magnitude hit the Turkish cities, leading to mini-tsunami sea surges on Greek islands. The earthquake had struck off Turkey’s Aegean coast and north of the Greek island of Samos. The US Geological Survey (USGS) said that the quake was centered off Turkey’s Izmir province.
The quake also triggered mini-tsunami on at least two Greek islands, flooding Izmir and Samos.
Afad, Turkey’s disaster and emergency authority said that the quake struck at 2.51 pm local time on Friday (11.51 am GMT). The latest count of injured has been reported as 710. The death toll is expected to rise as at least 20 buildings toppled in the Turkish city of Izmir, which is home to 4.5 million people and major holiday destination.
The earthquake’s epicentre is located 11 miles off Izmir province and 8 miles north of Samos, and is at a relative shallow depth of 10 miles. Afad had put the quake magnitude as 6.6 while the USGS recorded it as 7.0. According to European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre, the preliminary magnitude of quake was 6.9.
Greek authorities and media report rock falls and damage in Samos, island which is home to 45,000 people with at least 7000 refugees. The island reports at least 19 injured.
The shallow depth of quake in Aegean Sea has triggered tidal waves due to mini-tsunami. Citing following small quakes and tidal waves due to tsunamis, authorities have urged local people to stay off the coastal areas, Efthymios Lekkas, head of Greece’s organization for antiseismic planning said.
Video footage and pictures being shared on social media show flooding in Turkey’s coastal city of Seferihisar and Greece’s Chios and Samos, being called a “small tsunami”.
A local Turkish reporter Mazlum Vesek said that the quake felt like “the ground flipped under my feet like a rug.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that all the country’s resources have been dispatched to help those affected by the natural disaster. Search and rescue operations have initiated across the Izmir province – two ambulance helicopters, 38 ambulances and 35 medical rescue teams are at work as the night fell.
Despite the recent clashes, Greek and Turkish leaders talked and vowed to help one another in the time of crisis. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called Erdogan on Friday evening. He later tweeted, “Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together.”