Greece, Turkey pledge mutual aid after 6.7-magnitude quake kills 22, injures 790

Greece and Turkey have pledged mutual aid after a massive earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richer scale jolted the Aegean Sea between the Turkish coast and the Greek island of Samos, killing 22 people and injuring over 790 others.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said Friday’s earthquake, which was centred off Turkey’s Izmir province, triggered a mini-tsunami that flooded Izmir and Samos, reports the BBC.

Seismologists monitoring seismic activity in the affected area have advised people to stay away from damaged buildings, Xinhua news agency reported.

Numerous aftershocks have been recorded so far, with the strongest measuring 5 on the Richter scale, according to a report by the Greek national news agency AMNA.

The 6.7-magnitude quake was which was felt as far away as Athens and Istanbul and aftershocks as strong as magnitude 6.2 are expected to follow, Akis Tselentis, director of the Geodynamic Institute of the National Observatory of Athens, told AMNA.

Of the 22 victims, 20 were reported in Izmir and two in Samos, who were high school student. At least 786 were injured in Izmir and eight others on Samos.

The quake damaged buildings, mainly old constructions, and parts of Samos’ road network, and material damages have also been reported on the nearby islands of Chios and Ikaria, according to AMNA.

“Our condolences and thoughts go to the families of the victims of the earthquake in Samos and Izmir,” Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou tweeted.

“Human tragedy knows no boundaries. We hope for the least possible fatalities, while our duty now is to provide immediate support to the island.”

In a post on social media, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said: “I just called (Turkish) President Erdogan to offer my condolences for the tragic loss of life from the earthquake that struck both our countries.

“Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together.”

Relations between Greece and Turkey have been particularly strained in recent months by a dispute relating to control of territorial waters in the Mediterranean and the resources beneath them.

Meanwhile, President Erdogan said his government would help those affected by the quake “with all the means available to our state”.

Also, Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias tweeted that he spoke with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, expressing Athens’ readiness to immediately send to Ankara members of its disaster relief unit to help in extracting people trapped in buildings

The two earthquake-prone countries have experienced several destructive quakes in recent years.

The rapprochement known as “Greek-Turkish earthquake diplomacy” started in the aftermath of the 1999 quake that hit both countries.

In January, more than 30 people were killed and more than 1,600 injured when an earthquake struck Sivrice in Turkey’s eastern Elazig province.

In July 2019, the Greek capital Athens was hit by a tremor that knocked out power to large parts of the city.

A powerful quake that struck the Turkish city of Izmit, near Istanbul, in 1999 killed about 17,000 people.