A strong earthquake struck today in the Aegean Sea between the Turkish coast and the Greek island of Samos. It demolished buildings in the city of Izmir in western Turkey. Officials said the impact killed at least six people and injured scores.
A small tsunami struck District Seferisar of Izmir, said Haluk Ozener, director of the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute. The earthquake injured at least four people on Samos, where a tsunami warning was issued.
The earthquake killed six people in Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city. It drowned one and injured 202, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD.
Izmir Governor Yavuz Selim Kosger said the authorities rescued at least 70 people from the wreckage. He said the earthquake destroyed four buildings and fell more than 10 and damaged others.
Search and rescue efforts were continuing in at least 12 buildings, AFAD said. Turkish media showed wreckage of a multiple-story building, with people climbing it to start rescue efforts. Smoke rose from several spots.
Videos on Twitter showed flooding in the Seferhisar district, and Turkish officials and broadcasters called on people to stay off the streets after reports of traffic congestion.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted that 38 ambulances, two ambulance helicopters and 35 medical rescue teams were working in the city of Izmir.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency said the earthquake was centred in the Aegean at a depth of 16.5 km and registered at a 6.6 magnitude.
The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.9, with an epicenter 13 kilometers north northeast of the Greek island of Samos. The U.S. 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.
The environment and urban planning minister, Murat Kurum, said people were trapped under the wreckage and rescue efforts were underway.
Greek seismologist Akis Tselentis told Greek state broadcaster ERT that the quake was believed to be the main earthquake, but that due to the shallow depth of its epicentre — roughly 10 km — potentially powerful aftershocks could be expected for several weeks, or even a month, to come. He said residents of affected areas must be careful not to enter buildings that might have been damaged in the initial quake, as they could collapse in a strong aftershock.
Eastern Greek islands, Greek capital Athens and Bulgaria felt the earthquake. In Turkey, it was also felt across the regions of Aegean and Marmara, including Istanbul. Istanbul’s governor said there were no reports of damage in the city, Turkey’s largest.
On the Greek island of Samos, damage was reported in buildings and the road network, while a tsunami warning was issued, with residents told to stay away from the coast. Water rose above the dock in the main harbor of Samos and flooded the street.
Residents have been told also to stay away from buildings, as aftershocks continued to rattle the area.
The Greek minister responsible for civil protection and crisis management, Nikos Hardalias, was heading to Samos, as were a search and rescue team, paramedics, and engineers.