7.0-magnitude earthquake flattens buildings in Turkey and sends people fleeing from their homes on Greek islands

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Mini-tsunami sweeps into resorts after powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake flattens buildings in Turkey and sends people fleeing from their homes on Greek islands - leaving eight dead and hundreds injured

Turkey and Greece were battered by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake today which killed at least eight people, flattened buildings and caused a mini-tsunami which flooded streets in horrifying scenes on the Turkish coast.

Debris was racing down Turkish streets after an apparent sea surge near Izmir where at least six buildings were destroyed and footage showed people climbing over the wreckage of collapsed multi-storey blocks.

Turkey's disaster agency said at least six people were dead and 202 injured in the earthquake, while two teenagers were killed in Greece when the wall of a building collapsed on the island of Samos.

The mini-tsunami reached Samos too where islanders were told to avoid the coast after some fled their homes because of the quake, which was also felt in Athens and nearby Albania, North Macedonia and Bulgaria.

Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency said Friday's earthquake was centred in the Aegean at a depth of 10.3 miles.

Interior minister Suleyman Soylu said six buildings had collapsed in two parts of Izmir, while mayor Tunc Soyer said nearly 20 buildings had collapsed in the province.

A small tsunami struck the Seferisar district of Izmir, said Haluk Ozener, director of the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute.

Of the six confirmed deaths, one person drowned in high waters after the earthquake while the others were thought to have been buried under the wreckage of collapsed buildings.

Pictures from the Turkish disaster zone showed smoke blowing over the city of Izmir, debris being washed away by high waters, and dazed people trying to make their way through rubble piled high on the streets.

There were 38 ambulances, two ambulance helicopters and 35 medical rescue teams on the ground in Izmir, where TV footage showed police using chainsaws as they tried to force their way through the rubble. Local media said 70 people had been rescued alive from the debris.

Turkish media said the earthquake was felt across the regions of Aegean and Marmara, where Istanbul is located. However, Istanbul's governor said there were no reports of damage.

Soylu said there were no reports of casualties from six other provinces where the earthquake was felt but added there were small cracks in some buildings.

Ilke Cide, a doctoral student who was in Izmir's Guzelbahce region during the earthquake, said he went inland after waters rose after the earthquake. '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 to30 seconds.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that 'with all the means of our state, we stand by our citizens affected by the earthquake'. 'We have taken action to start the necessary work in the region with all our relevant institutions and ministers,' he said.

Greece's prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis later spoke to Erdogan to offer condolences for the victims in Turkey, saying that 'whatever our differences, these are the times when our people need to stand together'.

France, which has been locked in an angry row with Turkey in recent weeks, also offered its 'full solidarity' with both Turkey and Greece.

Tensions between Ankara and Paris had reached a peak last weekend when President Erdogan questioned the mental health of his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre said the quake had an epicentre eight miles from Samos, where the island's 45,000 people were urged to stay away from coastal areas.

Greece's top seismologist Eftyhmis Lekkas told Greek media: 'It was a very big earthquake, it's difficult to have a bigger one.'

A tsunami warning was issued, with residents of the Samos area told to stay away from the coast while water rose above the dock in the main harbour of Samos and flooded the street.

Media reports said the the two victims, the first to be reported in Greece, were aged 15 and 17, and were walking home from school in the port of Vathy when disaster struck.

'Two unconscious youngsters were pulled from the rubble of a collapsed wall and taken to hospital for identification,' the fire service said. The Greek authorities said another four people have been injured in the quake, which caused the walls of several old buildings to crumble.

People rushed into the streets on Samos and other islands following the tremor, which Greek officials put at magnitude 6.6 and the US Geological Survey at 7.0.

'We have never experienced anything like it,' said one local official. 'People are panicking.' Police said there was damage to some old buildings on the island.

Both countries reported aftershocks.

Greece and Turkey are both situated in one of the world's most active earthquake zones. In 1999, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey's northwest, killing more than 17,000 people, including 1,000 in Istanbul.

Another quake in 2011 in the southeastern province of Van resulted in more than 600 deaths. In Greece, the last deadly quake killed two people on the island of Kos, near Samos, in July 2017. 





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