On Friday, a powerful earthquake struck Turkey and Greece, killing at least six people, leveling buildings and causing a sea surge that flooded streets near Izmir, a Turkish resort area.
Greek public television said the earthquake also triggered a mini-tsunami, destroyed homes and injured at least four people on the eastern Aegean Sea island of Samos.
The 7.0 magnitude quake was reported 14 kilometers (almost nine miles) off the Greek town of Karlovasi on Samos, the US Geological Survey said.
A lower magnitude of 6.6 for the quake was announced by the Turkish government ‘s disaster agency, while Greece’s seismological agency said it measured 6.7.
In and around the Aegean resort city of Izmir, which has around three million inhabitants, a significant part of the damage occurred in Turkey.
Alive, woman pulled out
Images from the iconic holiday destination showed collapsed apartment buildings and dazed individuals attempting to make their way high on the streets through rubbled piled up.
Oh my Goodness! My God! One passerby shouted in one photo near a collapsed building that went viral in Turkey.
In another, when one woman was taken out alive in tears, a crowd let out a relieved cheer and burst out in applause.
Mayor Tunc Soyer of Izmir told CNN Turk that 20 buildings had collapsed, with officials saying their rescue efforts were based on 12 of them.
The Turkish disaster agency confirmed six deaths and said more than 200 were injured.
But scenes of destruction implied that the toll would increase.
Using chainsaws, rescuers
Social media photos showed water hurrying from an apparent sea surge through the streets of one of the towns near Izmir.
Smoke from thick white plumes came from different parts of the town itself, where buildings had collapsed.
Aerial video on Turkey’s NTV TV shows entire blocks of the city turning to rubble.
Footage shows rescuers being aided by locals and police using chainsaws as they attempted to push their way through the debris of a collapsed seven-floor house.
Rescuers called for silence, clearing up boulders and other rubble in a human chain for evidence of any survivors.
As the hours went on, Yavuz Kosger, the governor of the city, said that 70 people were pulled out of the rubble alive.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted that “with all the means available to our state,” he was ready to support.
‘It has been chaos’
People rushed to the streets in panic on the Greek island of Samos, near the quake’s epicenter.
“The walls of some houses have collapsed and some buildings have been destroyed,” Deputy Mayor Michalis Mitsios of the island was quoted by public broadcaster ERT as saying.
“It was chaos,” Deputy Mayor Giorgos Dionysiou said. “Never have we witnessed such a thing.”
The Greek civil protection agency instructed citizens of Samos to “hang out in the open and away from houses” in a text message.
Both Greece and Turkey are located in one of the most active earthquake zones in the world.
Despite both being members of the NATO military alliance, the two uneasy neighbors still suffer from traditionally bad relationships.
But the quake saw a spurt of what experts quickly dubbed “earthquake diplomacy” after the foreign ministers of the two countries agreed to assist each other in a rare phone call.
The Greek Foreign Minister (Nikos) Dendias called Mevlut Cavusoglu, our minister, to wish him the best. Both ministers stressed that, in case of need, they were ready to support each other,’ the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
Top Erdogan aide Fahrettin Altun tweeted that amid our disagreements over strategy, the tragedy “reminds us once again how close we are.”
Some of the most powerful earthquakes in the world have been reported along a fault line that runs from Turkey to Greece.
An earthquake of 7.4 magnitude hit Turkey’s northwest in 1999, killing more than 17,000 people, including 1,000 in Istanbul.
In the southeastern province of Van, another earthquake in 2011 resulted in more than 600 deaths.
In Greece, in July 2017, the last deadly quake killed two people on the island of Kos, near Samos.