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Death toll rises to 12 after major quake hits western Turkey

At least 12 people were killed and 438 others injured after a 6.6-magnitude earthquake hit the city of Izmir in western Turkey on Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

Istanbul, 30 October 2020 (dpa/MIA) – At least 12 people were killed and 438 others injured after a 6.6-magnitude earthquake hit the city of Izmir in western Turkey on Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

“Among those [injured], five citizens are undergoing surgery and eight citizens are under intensive care,” Erdogan said in televised remarks in Istanbul.

Authorities are using “every means available” to help those affected, Erdogan said, adding rescue efforts continued at a total of 17 damaged buildings in Turkey’s third largest city.

Erdogan thanked Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, along with Qatari and Azerbaijani leaders, who he said offered help in separate phone calls.

“That two neighbours show solidarity in difficult times is more valuable than many things in life,” Erdogan later tweeted in response to Mitsotakis, also offering Turkish help for Greece.

The quake struck at 3:01 pm (1201 GMT) at a depth of 16.5 kilometres in Izmir’s Seferihisar district, according to AFAD.

The quake was felt on the Greek islands in the Aegean as well as in nearby Turkish cities, including Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, some 540 kilometres to the north, TRT said.

Two teenagers were found dead on the Greek island of Samos and eight people were taken to hospital with injuries, according to Greek media.

At least four buildings completely collapsed, and a small-scale tsunami was triggered following the major quake in the Aegean city, said Izmir Governor Yavuz Selim Kosger.

Rescuers have managed to pull 70 survivors out so far, Kosger added.

In dramatic scenes shown by the broadcaster TRT, rescuers contacted at least four people trapped under the rubble at a collapsed seven-storey building in Bayrakli district.

Onlookers were asked to remain silent as teams talked on the phone to those trapped and used special resonance equipment to detect movement under the rubble.

The country’s disaster authority AFAD said the quake was followed by 107 aftershocks, urging people to stay away from damaged buildings.

The military has been mobilized to help with rescue efforts, the Defence Ministry said on Twitter.

Throughout the city of 4.3 million people, cellphone reception was temporarily lost, and there was traffic congestion as a result of panicked drivers, TRT said.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu urged locals to avoid traffic to open way for rescue teams.

Turkey’s religious directorate opened all mosques in Izmir for affected locals to spend the night, TRT reported. Tents, beds, mobile kitchens and blankets have also been dispatched to the area.

“European Union stands ready to provide support,” European Council President Charles Michel wrote on Twitter.

NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg also offered the defence alliance’s support to members Greece and Turkey, saying that he was “deeply saddened” by the reports of the quake.

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