A strong earthquake struck Friday in the Aegean Sea between the west coast of Turkey and the Greek island of Samos, collapsing several buildings in Turkey’s Izmir province and causing some damage in Samos. There were reports of people trapped beneath rubble in Izmir.
Fahrettin Koca, Turkey’s health minister, said on Twitter that initial reports indicate that at least four people have been killed, with 120 injured.
Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency said three injured people were pulled from the wreckage of a building in the city of Izmir. Some damage was to buildings and the road network was reported on Samos. The director of a hospital on the island said four people were treated there for light injuries.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency said Friday’s earthquake was centred in the Aegean at a depth of 16.5 kilometres and registered at a 6.6 magnitude. The emergency authority said it sent search and rescue teams to Izmir.
The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.9, with an epicentre 13 kilometres north northeast of the Greek island of Samos.
The United States Geological Survey put the magnitude at 7.0. It is common for preliminary magnitudes to differ in the early hours and days after a quake.
Turkish media showed wreckage of a multiple-storey building in central Izmir, with people climbing it to start rescue efforts. Turkish media showed at least one woman being helped from the rubble of a collapsed building. Smoke was filmed in several spots in central Izmir.
Izmir Mayor Tunc Soyer told CNN Turk that about 20 buildings collapsed. The city is the third-biggest in Turkey, with about 4.5 million residents. Turkey’s interior minister tweeted six buildings in Izmir were destroyed. He said there were small cracks in some buildings in six other provinces.
Turkish media said the earthquake was felt across the regions of Aegean and Marmara, including Istanbul. Istanbul’s governor said there were no reports of damage in the city.
Turkey sits on top of two major fault lines and earthquakes are frequent. Dozens were killed in an earthquake in January, mostly in Elazig province. Two strong earthquakes struck northwest Turkey in 1999, killing around 18,000 people.
Greek island residents flee
The quake was felt across the eastern Greek islands and even in the Greek capital Athens. Greek media said the residents of Samos and other islands fled their homes, while some rockfalls were reported. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Turkey and Greece reported aftershocks. The quake was also felt in Bulgaria.
Greek seismologist Efthymios Lekkas told Greek state television ERT that it was still too early to say whether this was the main earthquake, although he said it was likely it was.
“It is an event that is evolving,” Lekkas said, adding that some damage had been reported in parts of Samos.
A tsunami warning was issued, with residents of the Samos area told to stay away from the coastline. Water rose above the dock in the main harbour of Samos and flooded the street.
The regional governor of the Samos region, Yiannis Stamoulis, said no injuries had been reported on the island. Residents have also been told to stay away from buildings, as aftershocks continued to rattle the area.