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Rescue efforts under way after deadly earthquake in Turkey, Greece

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Rescue teams have ploughed through concrete blocks and the debris of eight collapsed buildings on Saturday in search of survivors of a powerful earthquake that struck Turkey’s Aegean coast and north of the Greek island of Samos on Friday, killing at least 25 people.

More than 800 people were injured from the quake that toppled buildings in Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city, and triggered a small tsunami in the district of Seferihisar and on Samos.

The quake was followed by more than 400 aftershocks, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD.

Early on Saturday, onlookers cheered as rescuers lifted a teenager out of the rubble of a devastated eight-storey apartment building.

Friends and relatives waited outside the building for news of loved ones still trapped, including employees of a dentist’s surgery that was located on the ground floor.

Two other women were rescued from another collapsed two-storey building.

AFAD reported that at least 24 people were killed in Izmir, including an elderly woman who drowned.

Two teenagers were killed on Samos after being struck by a collapsing wall. At least 19 people were injured on the island, with two, including a 14-year-old, airlifted to Athens and seven hospitalised on the island, health authorities said.

The small tsunami that hit the Turkish coast also affected Samos, with seawater flooding streets in the main harbour town of Vathi.

Authorities warned people to stay away from the coast and from potentially damaged buildings.

The earthquake, which the Kandilli Institute said had a magnitude of 6.9, struck at 2.51pm (11:51 GMT) in Turkey. Its epicentre was in the Aegean northeast of Samos.

On Friday, Izmir Mayor Tunc Soyer told broadcaster CNN Turk about 20 buildings had collapsed. Turkey’s interior minister tweeted six buildings in Izmir were destroyed. Izmir Governor Yavuz Selim Kosger said at least 70 people were rescued from the wreckage.
The effect was felt across the eastern Greek islands and as far as Athens and Bulgaria.

In Turkey, it shook the regions of Aegean and Marmara, including Istanbul.

Istanbul’s governor said there were no reports of damage in the city.

Authorities warned residents in Izmir not to return to damaged buildings, saying they could collapse in strong aftershocks.

In Samos, an island with a population of about 45,000, residents were urged to stay away from coastal areas.

In a show of solidarity rare following tense bilateral relations, Greek and Turkish government officials issued mutual messages of solidarity while the presidents of Greece and Turkey held a telephone conversation.

Relations between Turkey and Greece have been 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 neighbours and NATO allies.

Crisscrossed by extensive fault lines, Turkey is among the most earthquake-prone countries in the world.

More than 17,000 people were killed in August 1999 when a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck Izmit, a city southeast of Istanbul.

In 2011, an earthquake in the eastern city of Van killed more than 500.

Source: Al Jazeera

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