Powerful earthquakes hit the Aegean sea that shake Turkey and Greece with at least 26 people killed, on Friday afternoon. This has led to heavy destruction in the countries with buildings crashing down and water rushing into the streets of the coastal city of Izmir, Turkey, and on the island of Samos, Greece. The authorities have termed it a ‘mini tsunami’. The earthquake was of magnitude 7.0.
In the Turkish city of Izmir, neighborhoods were deluged with surging seawater which swept debris inland and left fish stranded as it receded.
People ran into the streets in panic. Turkey’s disaster agency has reported that around 804 people have been injured. Dozens were saved by rescue teams using diggers and helicopters to search for survivors. On the Greek island of Samos two teenagers, a boy and a girl were found dead in an area where a wall had collapsed.
Urbanisation Minister Murat Kurum reported that tents are been set up in the area with massive destruction. Also, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted that 38 ambulances, two ambulance helicopters and 35 medical rescue teams were working in the city of Izmir.
It is reported that the epicenter of the earthquake was situated just 10 kilometers deep. This relatively shallow depth meant strong shaking and massive destruction on both the Greek island and in cities along the Turkish coast. It is even predicted that potentially powerful aftershocks could be expected for several weeks, or even a month, to come.
The residents of the affected areas were advised to be careful not to enter buildings that might have been damaged in the initial quake, as they could collapse in a strong aftershock.
One of the residents of Izmir, Ilke Code said, “I am very used to earthquakes … so I didn’t take it very seriously at first but this time it was really scary”.
“We have never experienced anything like it,” said George Dionysiou, the local vice-mayor. “People are panicking.”
Earthquake history in the region
This region is no strange to earthquakes. It has complexity with tectonics. This makes it even more challenging to understand hazards in the region. The source of all the shaking is instead a complicated geologic jigsaw that makes up the area, cut through with a web of faults.
“This is definitely one of the most complex regions in the world,” says Joao Duarte, a marine geologist from the Instituto Dom Luiz at the University of Lisbon.
Crisscrossed by major 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 7.6 magnitude quake struck Izmit, a city southeast of Istanbul. In 2011, a quake in the eastern city of Van killed more than 500.
This earthquake has proved fatal to both the countries. Though not having good mutual ties, both have extended helping hands to each other.
“Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wrote in a tweet.
To this Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan replied, “That two neighbors show solidarity in difficult times is more valuable than many things in life.”