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Eight dead and 120 injured after 6.7 magnitude earthquake destroys houses in Greece and Turkey

At least 12 people were killed in Turkey and two in Greece yesterday when a powerful earthquake shook the Aegean, collapsing buildings and reportedly trapping people under rubble.

The earthquake struck with a magnitude up to 7.0, was felt in Athens and Istanbul, and triggered a mini-tsunami on the Greek island of Samos, where a teenage boy and girl were killed. 

Turkey’s disaster relief agency said 419 people were injured by the earthquake, whose epicentre in the Aegean Sea was 8.6 miles off the town of Neon Karlovasion on Samos at a depth of 10.3 miles. 

Video shared on social media showed plumes of dust rising from collapsing buildings in the Turkish province of Izmir, while people crawled over destroyed structures searching for survivors.

About 20 buildings had collapsed in the coastal province, according to the mayor of Izmir city Tunc Soyer, with officials focusing their rescue efforts on 17 of them.

About 70 people had been pulled alive from under rubble, while a further 20 people were believed to be trapped in a supermarket after an 11-storey building collapsed. 

Scenes of devastation suggested the death toll could rise further.

"Some of our fellow citizens are stuck in the rubble," said Environment Minister Murat Kurum.

In one video filmed in Izmir, a city of three million residents filled with high-rise apartment blocks, rescuers and police used chainsaws as they tried to penetrate the rubble of a collapsed seven-storey building.

Emergency workers asked for silence as they listened for survivors, while helpers cleared debris with bare hands, passing masonry in a human chain.

One hospital in Izmir evacuated onto the street as a precaution against aftershocks, with some patients still strapped to gurneys and hooked to intravenous lines.

Other footage showed seawater surging through streets carrying debris and furniture. Vehicles in Izmir's Seferihisar district were swept along by the water and piled on top of each other. 

Ismail Yetiskin, mayor of Izmir's Seferihisar, said sea levels rose as a result of the quake. "There seems to be a small tsunami," he told broadcaster NTV.

Idil Gungor, who runs a hotel in Izmir's Seferihisar district, told broadcaster NTV that fish had washed up in the garden of the hotel, about 50 metres inland.

On Samos, a 17-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy were confirmed dead, Greek ERT public television reported. 

The pair were walking home from school in the port town of Vathy when the earthquake hit at 1:51pm local time (1151 GMT). They were later found unconscious after being hit by a collapsing wall. 

Unsuccessful attempts were made to resuscitate the girl, ERT said.

"Words fail when children are lost. In these difficult hours, our thoughts turn to their families and Samos experiencing unbearable pain," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted that he was ready to help "with all the means available to our state".

The Greek prime minister called Mr Erdogan to offer his condolences “for the tragic loss of life”.

“Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together," Mr Mitsotakis said on Twitter.

The two countries have come close to conflict in recent months in a dispute over maritime boundaries but their respective foreign ministers offered to assist each other’s earthquake response.

"Greek Foreign Minister (Nikos) Dendias called our minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to wish him the best. Both ministers stressed they were ready to help each other in case of need," the Turkish foreign ministry said.

Turkey is bisected by major fault lines in one of the world's most active seismic zones.

Two earthquakes registering more than 7 on the Richter scale struck northwest Turkey in 1999, killing more than 17,000 people.

Over 600 people died in an earthquake in the southeast province of Van in 2011.

Eight people on Samos were hospitalised with non life-threatening injuries, according to the island’s hospital director, Nikos Stefanis, who expected more patients could still arrive. 

A 14-year-old girl with severe fractures was evacuated by air to Athens.

Tina Zormbala, a professor at the School of Mathematics of the University of the Aegean on Samos, said the earthquake was the worst she had experienced.

"I've lived through every major earthquake in Greece, but this was something unique. Very intense and very long. It would not stop. I was at my office, I saw the bookcase shake back and forth and the light in the room. It was like the earthquakes we see in movies.

Numerous buildings, including churches, had been severely damaged, she said. “People will have to sleep in squares. There are also many walls that have fallen.”

Flooding had damaged the port, which she said “has been abandoned.”

Landlines were out on the island, where Greek civil defence warned people to stay away from the coast due to the risk of tidal waves.

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