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At least 8 dead after earthquake hits Aegean Sea



At least eight people died and hundreds were injured in Greece and Turkey following an earthquake in the eastern Aegean Sea on Friday afternoon.

The earthquake struck just off the Greek island of Samos, in the vicinity of the third-largest Turkish city of Izmir, and was felt across the region. The Turkish disaster management agency AFAD said the tremor registered 6.6 on the Richter Scale, while the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre reported a 6.9 magnitude.

Shortly after the quake, a small tsunami hit the coastal Seferihisar district of Izmir province and caused flooding in parts of Samos.

Six people died in Izmir, AFAD said early on Friday evening, including one person who drowned. More than 200 people were injured on the Turkish side.

On Samos, two teenagers died after a wall collapsed in the quake, Greek media reported. Eight more people were injured on the island.

Dramatic footage showed buildings collapsing in Izmir, where Turkish flags still hung from the balconies following Thursday’s national day celebrations, and boats being swept away from Seferihisar port as the sea withdrew before the tsunami.

Izmir’s mayor said at least 20 buildings had collapsed; the district governor said 70 people had been rescued from beneath the rubble. Search efforts were ongoing as of Friday evening.

On Samos, several buildings suffered damage, with part of a church collapsing in the town of Karlovasi.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he had called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday afternoon to offer his condolences. “Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together,” he wrote.

Erdoğan responded: “Turkey, too, is always ready to help Greece heal its wounds. That two neighbors show solidarity in difficult times is more valuable than many things in life.”

Tensions between the two neighboring countries had been growing in recent months, with Turkey sending ships to search for energy resources in waters that are internationally recognized as belonging to Greece.

Condolences and offers of help also poured in from across Europe on Friday.

“My thoughts are with Greece and Turkey. We are following the situation and we stand ready to help, in all possible ways,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister of France — which has also repeatedly clashed with Ankara in recent weeks — offered to dispatch aid to the two countries. “France stands alongside the Turkish and Greek people to face this terrible ordeal,” he wrote on Twitter.

A number of faultlines run through the region. In 1999, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake near Izmit, a city southeast of Istanbul, killed 17,000 people. Greece rushed to Turkey’s aid following that earthquake, which led to a swift improvement in relations between the two countries.



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