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Rescue efforts under way after deadly quake in western Turkey

Turkish rescue teams, joined by sniffer dogs, continued their search under spotlights as night fell on Friday in Turkey's third largest city, Izmir, after a 6.6-magnitude earthquake left at least six people dead and 321 injured.

Istanbul, 30 October 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Turkish rescue teams, joined by sniffer dogs, continued their search under spotlights as night fell on Friday in Turkey’s third largest city, Izmir, after a 6.6-magnitude earthquake left at least six people dead and 321 injured.

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.

Rescuers were talking on the phone with a person trapped under the rubble at a collapsed seven-storey building in Bayrakli district. The person is believed to be an old woman who reportedly said her grandchild and a third person are also alive under the rubble, state broadcaster TRT reported.

“Can you move? Do those next to you breathe?” a rescue team member was heard saying to one of the trapped during a live TRT broadcast. “Bring the [sniffer] dog quickly!” another rescuer yelled, as she rushed back on top of the rubble.

In another dramatic scene, rescuers contacted another person at the same building, named Buse, telling her to stay calm.

Onlookers were asked to remain silent as teams used special resonance equipment to detect movement under the rubble.

Rescue efforts continued in 16 other damaged buildings, the country’s disaster authority AFAD said, 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.

TRT earlier showed footage of flooded streets, cars and boats that had been dragged away, and damaged restaurants and workplaces, in Seferihisar district.

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

It was followed by 97 aftershocks, AFAD added.

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 reports.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis offered to help Turkey with its rescue efforts, in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish state news agency Anadolu said.

“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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