Greece, Turkey pledge mutual aid after 6.7-magnitude quake jolts Aegean
The leaders of Greece expressed their condolences and offered aid to Turkey on Friday after a strong earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale hit the Aegean Sea between the Turkish coast and the Greek island of Samos, causing casualties, injuries and extensive damage in both countries.
Two high school students died and at least nine people were injured after the wall of an old building collapsed in a narrow street on Samos, the Greek authorities said.
At least 12 people were killed and over 500 injured by the quake in the Turkish seaside city of Izmir, the Greek national news agency AMNA reported citing Turkish media.
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."
"I just called (Turkish) President Erdogan to offer my condolences for the tragic loss of life from the earthquake that struck both our countries," Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis posted on social media. "Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together."
Fahrettin Altun, communications director of Turkey's presidency, also conveyed Erdogan's condolences to Greece, AMNA reported. The tragedy is a reminder of how close the two countries are despite their differences, Altun said, adding that Turkey is also prepared to help Greece if needed.
Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias tweeted that he spoke with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, expressing Greece's readiness to immediately send to Turkey 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.
On Friday, Greek media echoed the same message. "Our heart is beating at the same rhythm for Samos and Izmir. The quake came to remind us that on both sides of the Aegean there are people living who have much more linking them than what is dividing them," read an article published on the Greek news portal in.gr.
Meanwhile, seismologists monitoring seismic activity in the affected area have advised people to stay away from damaged buildings. Numerous aftershocks have been recorded so far, with the strongest measuring 5 on the Richter scale, AMNA reported.
The 6.7-magnitude quake was the main tremor but 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.