The death toll is rising hour by hour after a powerful earthquake struck the Aegean Sea off the coasts of Turkey and the Greek island of Samos. At least 19 people have died and hundreds are injured after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Friday morning, shaking cities and triggering a tsunami that flooded the streets of western Turkey.
Turkey’s disaster management and emergency management presidency said 17 people had died and 709 injured, Reuters reported. Two teenagers, a boy and a girl, died in Samos.
It is not yet clear how many people were crushed in their own homes in Turkey, a country infamous for its poor construction. Rescuers search the rubble for survivors and bodies.
Duygu Kati, principal of a high school, told CBS News that she evacuated all of her students to safety. She said the building almost collapsed.
Because it is positioned on a number of major fault 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 country in recent decades.
Greek seismologist Akis Tselentis told a public broadcaster there was an increased risk of aftershocks powerful enough to topple buildings because the quake’s epicenter was shallow, the Associated Press reported.
Turkey and Greece are currently fighting over exploration rights in the Mediterranean, Reuters reported – but the two leaders tweeted about the need for solidarity in times of crisis.
“Whatever our differences, these are times when our people must be united,” wrote Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. “It is more precious than much in life that two neighbors show solidarity in difficult times,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said.
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