ANKARA: At least 12 people have been killed and some 419 others injured in the western Izmir province after a magnitude 6.6 earthquake jolted Turkey’s Aegean region.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said the quake struck on Friday at 1151 GMT (2:51 pm local time) at a depth of 16.54 km (around 10 miles).
Turkish officials said at least 20 buildings collapsed in Izmir with people trapped under the debris in at least five sites.
Local media showed wreckage of a multiple-story building in central Izmir, with people climbing it to reach rescuers. Plumes of dust were filmed in several spots in central Izmir.
Izmir Governor Yavuz Selim Kosger said that so far 70 people have been rescued from the debris.
Expressing solidarity, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey stands by the “citizens affected by the earthquake.”
“We took action to start the necessary work in the region with all our relevant institutions and ministers,” Erdogan added.
Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said the quake was also felt in the metropolis, but no “damage” was reported.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said several provinces in the region, including Usak, Denizli, Manisa, Balikesir, Aydin and Mugla, sustained minor damages to some buildings.
Search and rescue continues
Turkish search and rescue teams are continuing their work on the field.
Turkey’s disaster agency also said an emergency aid of around $359,000 (3 million Turkish liras) was sent to the region.
The National Defence Ministry has established a crisis desk in the wake of the earthquake and two military helicopters are taking part in search and rescue efforts.
Environment Minister Murat Kurum said he was heading to Izmir region, along with Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli.
Adil Karaismailoglu, the Turkish transportation and infrastructure minister, said that there were no problems in transportation and communication following the tremor.
Greek island of Samos
The National Observatory of Athens, Institute of Geodynamics initially put the magnitude of the quake at 6.6 but later revised it to 6.7.
The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre said the quake had an epicentre 13 km northeast of the Greek island of Samos.
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.
Two children have reportedly died.
Residents of Samos, an island with a population of about 45,000, were urged to stay away from coastal areas, Eftyhmios Lekkas, head of Greece’s organisation for anti-seismic planning, told Greece’s Skai TV.
“It was a very big earthquake, it’s difficult to have a bigger one,” said Lekkas.
Both countries reported aftershocks.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called Erdogan, offering condolences after a strong earthquake felt in both countries killed civilians in the Turkish city of Izmir.
“Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together,” Mitsotakis wrote on Twitter.
Erdogan offered the leader any help that Greece might need.
Tensions are running high between the two neighbours over rights over areas of the eastern Mediterranean thought to be rich in natural resources.