At least 19 people have now died and more than 700 have been injured after an earthquake toppled several buildings in Turkey.
Rescue efforts are continuing this evening to pull survivors from the rubble after the 7.0 magnitude quake triggered a small tsunami which swept through the region.
Izmir, Turkey’s third biggest city, and the Greek island of Samos were among the worst affected areas. Several buildings collapsed and some areas have been submerged under flood waters.
Greek officials confirmed that two teenagers who were on their way home from school are among the dead after they were struck by a collapsing wall on Samos.
In Izmir, 17 people are known to have died, including one person who drowned, while 709 people have been treated for injuries.
Governor Yavuz Selim Kosger said at least 70 people were rescued from wrecked buildings, with four destroyed and more than 10 collapsed.
The US Geological Survey said the tremor hit nine miles off the Greek town of Karlovasi on Samos and it was felt hundreds of miles away in both Istanbul and Athens.
Witnesses described people running onto streets in panic in Izmir, a city with three million residents and filled with high-rise apartment blocks.
Aerial footage on Turkey’s NTV television showed entire city blocks turned to rubble.
‘Oh my God!’ one passerby shouted near a collapsed building in one image that went viral in Turkey.
Search-and-rescue efforts were underway in at least 17 buildings this evening. Turkish media showed rescuers pulling people from the rubble, including one survivor who was found about six hours after the quake.
Crowds let out a relieved cheer and broke out in applause as another woman was pulled out alive in tears.
Emergency teams continued digging after nightfall and cranes lifted concrete slabs from the wreckage.
Video on Twitter showed flooding in the Seferihisar district, and Turkish officials and broadcasters called on people to stay off the streets after reports of traffic congestion.
The footage showed debris including refrigerators, chairs and tables floating through streets after the tsunami. Cars were also dragged by the water and piled on top of each other.
Idil Gungor, who runs a hotel in the district, told broadcaster NTV that fish had washed up on the garden of her hotel, around 50 metres from the shore.
At least 19 people were injured in Samos, with two, including a 14-year-old, being airlifted to Athens and seven hospitalised on the island, health authorities said.
‘It was chaos,’ said deputy mayor Giorgos Dionysiou. ‘We have never experienced anything like this.’
The tsunami sent seawater flooding into streets in the main harbor town of Vathi. Authorities warned people to stay away from the coast and from potentially damaged buildings.
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 and warned that buildings could collapse in a strong aftershock.
The government and cities like Istanbul sent about 2,800 rescue personnel to Izmir, as well as relief supplies. The Turkish Red Crescent set up kitchens.
The leaders of Turkey and Greece – caught up in a bitter dispute over exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean – spoke by phone and expressed hopes that both countries would see a speedy recovery from the quake.
President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was ready to help Greece if necessary. Earlier, their foreign ministers spoke and said they were ready to help one another.
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