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 have been killed and hundreds injured after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake shook cities on Friday and triggered a tsunami that flooded roads in western Turkey.
Turkey’s Disaster Management and Emergency Situations Presidency said 17 people had been killed and 709 injured, Reuters reported. Two teenagers, a boy and a girl, died in Samos.
It is not yet clear how many people have been smashed into their homes in Turkey, a country notorious for poor construction. Rescue workers search through the rubble for survivors and corpses.
High school principal Duygu Kati told CBS News she had evacuated all her students safely. He said the building almost collapsed.
Located on a number of major damage lines, Turkey is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world, according to Reuters. More than 17,000 people have died as a result of earthquakes in the nation in recent decades.
Greek seismologist Akis Tselentis told a state broadcaster that there was an increased risk of aftershocks that were strong enough to knock down buildings because the epicenter was shallow, the Associated Press reported.
Turkey and Greece are currently fighting for exploration rights in the Mediterranean, Reuters reported – but both leaders tweeted about the need for solidarity in times of crisis.
“Whatever our differences, these are moments when our people must stand together,” wrote Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. “The fact that the two neighbors show solidarity in difficult times is valuable of many things in life,” said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
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