The death toll rises an hour after a strong earthquake struck the Aegean Sea off the coast of Turkey and the Greek island of Samos. At least 19 people were killed and hundreds injured after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake early Friday, shook cities and unleashed a tsunami that engulfed the streets of western Turkey.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency said 17 people were killed and 709 injured, Reuters reported. Two teenagers, a boy and a girl, died in Samos.
It is unclear how many people have been crushed in their homes in Turkey, a country famous for its poor quality construction. Rescue workers search through the rubble for survivors and dead bodies.
Duego Katie, a high school principal, told CBS News that she has safely evacuated all of her students. She said the building had almost collapsed.
Located on a number of major fault lines, Turkey is one of the countries in the world most prone to earthquakes, according to Reuters. More than 17,000 people have been killed by earthquakes that struck the country in recent decades.
Greek seismologist Akis Tesselentis told state radio that there was an increased risk of aftershocks strong enough to knock down buildings because the epicenter was of shallow depth, the Associated Press reported.
Reuters reported that Turkey and Greece are currently fighting over exploration rights in the Mediterranean – but the two leaders tweet about the need for solidarity in times of crisis.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wrote: “Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “Showing solidarity by two neighbors in difficult times is more valuable than many things in life.”
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