Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency said Friday’s earthquake was centered in the Aegean Sea at a depth of 16.5 kilometers and recorded at a magnitude of 6.6. Emergency authorities said they had sent search and rescue teams to Izmir.
The Euro-Mediterranean Seismological Center said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.9, with an epicenter 13 kilometers northeast of the Greek island of Samos.
The United States Geological Survey estimated the magnitude to be 7.0. It is common for preliminary magnitudes to differ in the first hours and days after an earthquake.
Turkish media showed the wreckage of a multi-story building in central Izmir, with people climbing it to begin rescue efforts. Turkish media have shown at least one woman being helped from the rubble of a collapsed building. Smoke was filmed at several locations in central Izmir.
Izmir mayor Tunc Soyer told CNN Turk that around 20 buildings have collapsed. The city is the third largest in Turkey, with around 4.5 million inhabitants. The Turkish Interior Minister tweeted that six buildings in Izmir had been destroyed. He said there were small cracks in some buildings in six other provinces.
Turkish media said the earthquake was felt in the Aegean Sea and Marmara regions, including Istanbul. The governor of Istanbul said no damage had been reported in the city.
Turkey sits atop two major fault lines, and earthquakes are common. Dozens of people were killed in an earthquake in January, mainly in the province of Elazig. Two strong earthquakes struck northwestern Turkey in 1999, killing around 18,000 people.
The inhabitants of the Greek islands flee
The earthquake was felt in the eastern Greek islands and even in the Greek capital Athens. Greek media said residents of Samos and other islands fled their homes, while rockfall was reported. No injuries were immediately reported.
Turkey and Greece reported aftershocks. The earthquake was also felt in Bulgaria.
Greek seismologist Efthymios Lekkas told Greek public television ERT that it was still too early to say whether this was the main earthquake, although he said it probably was.
“This is an evolving event,” Lekkas said, adding that damage had been reported in parts of Samos.
A tsunami warning has been issued as residents of the Samos region have been ordered to stay away from the coastline. Water rose above the quayside at the main port of Samos and flooded the street.
Samos region regional governor Yiannis Stamoulis said no injuries had been reported on the island. Residents were also urged to stay away from buildings as aftershocks continued to shake the area.