A magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck at the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey on Friday (October 30), leaving at least four dead and over a hundred injured. Authorities reported several collapsed buildings in the coastal areas and of both Turkey and Greece with people being trapped under rubbles.
There were conflicting reports of the earthquake's epicenter. Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said the epicenter was about 11 miles (17 kilometers) off the coast of Izmir province in Turkey while the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said that it was around 33.5 kilometers and at a depth of 10 km. The tremor was also felt as far as Istanbul some 330 km away from Izmir and on several islands in Greece. While there was panic in the Greek islands and in Istanbul, there were no reports of injuries.
The USGS put the preliminary magnitude of the earthquake at 7.0 while the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre said it was about 6.9. Some agencies reported that it was about 6.6. However, it is not unusual to have different preliminary magnitudes. It takes hours and days to get the data seismological sensors to come to a conclusion of the severity of the tremors.
Property Damages in Turkey
As per reports, Turkey seems to be the hardest-hit country in the earthquake. The coastal city of Izmir dealt a heavy blow with massive damages to properties. Netizens took to Twitter and Facebook to post images of collapsed buildings in the city.
Suleyman Soylu, Turkey's Interior Minister initially said that at least six buildings had collapsed in two coastal districts. But there were conflicting reports of that too during the initial chaos. Tunc Soyer, mayor of Izmir, said the number of buildings collapsed was 20 while Murat Kurum, Turkey's Urbanisation Minister said the number was only five. Soylu later in a tweet said that there was no report of casualties in six other provinces but the earthquake was powerful enough for some small cracks to appear on several buildings.
However, Fahrettin Koca, Turkey's Health Minister later clarified that at least four people had died and at least 120 were injured in Izmir. Authorities sent 38 ambulances, two helicopters and 35 medical teams for rescue works in Izmir, the Associated Press reported. The Governor of Izmir, Selim Kosger told AP that around 70 people were rescued from more than 10 collapsed buildings and further rescue efforts were underway.
A student, Ilke Cide who was in the Guzelbahce region of Izmir at the time of the earthquake told Reuters that water rose following the tremors. "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. According to him, the tremors lasted for only about 25-30 seconds.
Following the earthquake, a small tsunami also hit the coastal district of Seferisar at Izmir according to Haluk Ozener, the Director of Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute in Istanbul.
Chaos on Greek Island of Samos
While the tremors were felt at several Greek islands, the country was largely spared. Authorities immediately issued a tsunami alert following the earthquake. But only high tidal waves were observed. In the Greek island of Samos that has a population of about 45,000, four people were injured during the earthquake. There were major damages to a few old buildings in Samos as per a Greek police spokesperson. As per local citizens, several old buildings partially collapsed while there were reports of a small tsunami.
There was chaos on the streets as people rushed out of their houses. "It was chaos. We have never experienced anything like it. People are panicking," the local vice-mayor George Dionysiou said.
Samos' deputy mayor Michalis Mitsios said that "walls of some houses collapsed while several buildings were damaged."
Turkey is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world due to its location. Major fault lines are under Turkey, leading to major earthquakes often. Since January 2020, there have been four earthquakes in Turkey. In January, a major 6.7 earthquake rattled Elazig Province, killing 41 and injuring over 1,600.