At least 28 killed in Turkey earthquake

Rescue teams are ploughing through concrete blocks and the debris of eight collapsed buildings in search of survivors of a powerful earthquake that struck Turkey's Aegean coast and north of the Greek island of Samos, killing at least 28 people.

More than 800 others were injured.

The quake hit on Friday afternoon, toppling buildings in Izmir, Turkey's third-largest city, and triggering a small tsunami in the district of Seferihisar and on Samos. The quake was followed by hundreds of aftershocks.

In all, about 100 people have been rescued since the earthquake, Murat Kurum, the environment and urban planning minister, told reporters. It was not clear how many more people were trapped under buildings that were levelled.

Some 5000 rescue personnel were working on the ground, Kurum said.

At least 28 people were killed in Izmir, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted. Among them was an elderly woman who drowned.

Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said 831 were injured in Izmir and three other provinces. The health minister said 25 of them were in intensive care.

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, being flown 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 Istanbul-based Kandilli Institute said had a magnitude of 6.9, was centred in the Aegean northeast of Samos. AFAD said it measured 6.6 and hit at a depth of some 16 kilometres.

It was felt across the eastern Greek islands and as far as Athens and in 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, Turkey's largest.

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

"I thank President Erdogan for his positive response to my call," Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Saturday before travelling to Samos.

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 neighbours and nominal NATO allies.

© RAW 2020