ISTANBUL – The death toll continues to rise in Turkey after a strong, shallow earthquake struck between the Turkish coast and the Greek island of Samos Friday.
At least 14 people have been confirmed dead and more than 400 others have been hurt amid collapsing buildings and floodings, officials said.
A small tsunami struck the Seferihisar district south of Izmir, the city in western Turkey that was the worst affected, said Haluk Ozener, director of the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute.
Video from western Turkey posted in the minutes after the quake shows mass destruction and desperate searches for survivors.
— Zaid Hamid (@ZaidZamanHamid) October 30, 2020
The U.S. Geological Survey says the preliminary magnitude 7.0 earthquake was centred in the Aegean Sea just before 3 p.m. local time.
— USGS (@USGS) October 30, 2020
On Samos, where a tsunami warning was issued, two teenagers died after being struck by a wall that collapsed. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted condolences, saying “Words are too poor to describe what one feels before the loss of children.”
Another eight people were reportedly treated at the local hospital for light injuries.
Extensive damage to buildings and roads on the island has been reported, and residents were warned to stay away from the coast.
Water rose above the dock in the main harbor of Samos and flooded the street. Residents also were told to stay away from buildings amid aftershocks.
Greek seismologist Akis Tselentis told Greek state broadcaster ERT that due to the shallow depth of its epicenter — roughly 10 kilometers — potentially powerful aftershocks could be expected for several weeks.
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.
— Mir Muhammad (@MirPAK5) October 30, 2020
In a show of solidarity rare in recent months of tense bilateral relations, Greek and Turkish government officials issued mutual messages of solidarity.
“We pray that there is no further loss of live in Turkey or Greece and we send our best wishes to all those affected on both sides of the earthquake,” Turkey’s Communications Director Fahrettin Altun tweeted. “This tragedy reminds us once again how close we are despite our differences over policy. We’re ready to help if Greece needs it.”
Mitsotakis, the Greek prime minister, tweeted that he had phoned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “to offer my condolences for the tragic loss of life from the earthquake that struck both our countries. Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together.”
Relations between Turkey and Greece have been particularly tense, with warships from both facing off in the eastern Mediterranean in a dispute over maritime boundaries and energy exploration rights. The ongoing tension has led to fears of open conflict between the two neighbors and NATO allies.