A strong earthquake struck Friday in the Aegean Sea between the Turkish coast and the Greek island of Samos, collapsing buildings in the city of Izmir in western Turkey, and officials said at least six people were killed and scores were injured. A small tsunami struck the Seferisar district of Izmir, said Haluk Ozener, director of the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute.
At least four people were slightly injured on Samos, where a tsunami warning was issued.
Six people were killed in Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city, including one who drowned, and 202 were injured, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD.
Izmir Governor Yavuz Selim Kosger said at least 70 people had been rescued from the wreckage. He said four buildings were destroyed and more than 10 collapsed, while others were also damaged.
A man told the Reuters news agency he couldn’t think when the ground was shaking. “All you try to do is to go out,” he said. “Everywhere was collapsing down, luckily our building was intact. We were really panicked and managed to go out at the very last minute.”
Search and rescue efforts were continuing in at least 12 buildings, the disaster agency said.
Turkish media showed wreckage of a multiple-story building, with people climbing it to start rescue efforts. Smoke rose from several spots.
Videos on Twitter showed flooding in the Seferhisar district, and Turkish officials and broadcasters called on people to stay off the streets after reports of traffic congestion.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted that 38 ambulances, two ambulance helicopters and 35 medical rescue teams were working in the city of Izmir.
The U.S. Geological Survey put the earthquake’s magnitude at 7.0. Other agencies reported lower magnitudes. The disaster agency, AFAD, said the quake was centered in the Aegean at a depth of 10.3 miles and registered a 6.6 magnitude.
The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.9, with an epicenter 8 miles north-northeast of Samos. It is common for preliminary magnitudes to differ in the early hours and days after a quake.
The environment and urban planning minister, Murat Kurum, said people were trapped under the wreckage and rescue efforts were underway.
Greek seismologist Akis Tselentis told Greek state broadcaster ERT that the quake was believed to be the main earthquake, but that due to the shallow depth of its epicenter potentially powerful aftershocks could be expected for several weeks, or even a month, to come.
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.
The earthquake was felt across the eastern Greek islands and as far as the Greek capital, Athens, and in Bulgaria. In Turkey, it was also felt across the regions of Aegean and Marmara, including Istanbul. Istanbul’s governor said there were no reports of damage in the city, Turkey’s largest.
On Samos, damage was reported in buildings and the road network, and residents were told to stay away from the coast. Water rose above the dock in the main harbor of Samos and flooded the street.
Residents have also been told to stay away from buildings, as aftershocks continued to rattle the area.
The Greek minister responsible for civil protection and crisis management, Nikos Hardalias, was heading to Samos, as were a search and rescue team, paramedics and engineers.