News World Deaths, destruction and floods as earthquake shakes Greece and Turkey
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Deaths, destruction and floods as earthquake shakes Greece and Turkey

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Buildings have been flattened and homes hit by huge waves after a strong earthquake struck the Aegean Sea, rocking Turkey and Greece.

There were reports of a “mini tsunami”, triggered by the magnitude 7 quake, which slammed into the nearby Greek islands and Turkish coast.

Some Greek neighbourhoods were deluged with surging seawater which swept a flood of debris inland and left fish stranded as it receded.

In Turkey, rescue operations are underway after buildings collapsed, with people stuck in the rubble in Izmir, one of Turkey’s main tourist regions.

Nineteen people have been confirmed dead in the two countries and Izmir’s governor said 70 people had been rescued from under the rubble.

Izmir mayor Tunc Soyer said about 20 buildings came down in the province, with video footage capturing the frightening moment of collapse.

 

Local media reported people rushing onto the streets in panic in Izmir.

Ismail Yetiskin, mayor of Izmir’s Seferihisar, said sea levels rose on Turkey’s coastline as a result of the quake.

“There seems to be a small tsunami,” he told broadcaster NTV.

Footage on social media showed debris including refrigerators, chairs and tables floating through streets on the deluge, with cars dragged by the water and piled on top of each other.

Idil Gungor, who runs a hotel in Izmir’s Seferihisar district, told broadcaster NTV that people were cleaning the debris after the floodwaters receded.

She said fish had washed up on the garden of the hotel, about 50 metres from the shore.

Ilke Cide, a doctoral student who was in Izmir’s Guzelbahce region during the earthquake, said he went inland as waters rose after the earthquake.

“I am very used to earthquakes… so I didn’t take it very seriously at first but this time it was really scary,” he said, adding the earthquake had lasted for at least 25-30 seconds.

This building was destroyed in Turkey’s western Izmir province. Photo: AAP

Residents of the Greek island of Samos, which has a population of about 45,000, were urged to stay away from coastal areas amid reports it was the island’s biggest quake in 100 years.

“It was a very big earthquake, it’s difficult to have a bigger one,” said , Eftyhmios Lekkas, head of Greece’s organisation for anti-seismic planning.

“We have never experienced anything like it,” said George Dionysiou, the local vice-mayor.

“People are panicking.”

A Greek police spokesman said there was damage to some old buildings on the island and two teenagers were killed on Samos by a collapsing wall.

The foreign ministers of Turkey and Greece – which have been caught up in a bitter dispute over ownership of potential hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean – spoke by phone after the earthquake and said they were ready to help one another, officials in Ankara said.

AFAD put the magnitude of the earthquake at 6.6, while the US Geological Survey said it was 7.0.

It was felt along Turkey’s Aegean coast and the northwestern Marmara region, media said.