A powerful 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck the Aegean coast of western Turkey and the Greek island of Lesbos, killing at least one person, injuring few others and destroying homes.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management wing said the quake struck in the Aegean Sea at a depth of seven kilometres at 3.28pm Monday local time.
Tremors were also felt in densely-populated Istanbul and in the western Turkish provinces of Izmir. At least 25 aftershocks were recorded.
Several buildings collapsed and the debris blocked narrow streets at Vrisa, a community of around 600 people to the south of Lesbos.
"Tens of buildings have collapsed and roads are blocked off," said Marios Apostolides, the divisional commander of the fire brigade.
A woman, believed to be about 60, was crushed by the roof of her home and died, the island’s mayor said.
At least 10 people were injured in the village of Vrisa, Greek authorities said.
“We are advising residents in affected areas of Lesbos to remain outdoors until buildings can be inspected,” senior seismologist Efthimios Lekkas said.
Senior Greek government officials, seismologists and response teams are heading from the capital, Athens, to Lesbos to assess the damage.
Turkey’s emergency management agency said there were no reports of casualties and has dispatched emergency and health teams, and 240 family tents to the area as a precaution.
In Turkey, 61-year old Ayse Selvi felt the tremors in her summer home in Karaburun near the quake’s epicentre.
“My God, all the picture frames fell on the ground and I have no idea how I ran out. I’m scared to go inside now,” she said.
Her sister, Seval Isci, 57, was ironing at home in Izmir when the earthquake hit and left her home along with the other residents of the building when the first aftershock hit.
“We were really scared,” she said.
Private Dogan news agency showed residents in western Turkey leaving buildings. State-run radio in Greece said hundreds of residents left buildings and waited out in the street in Lesbos’ capital, Mytilene.
Turkey and Greece sit on significant fault lines and have regularly been hit by earthquakes in recent years.
This year alone, Turkey’s western Aegean coast was hit by several earthquakes of up to 5.5 magnitude, which brought back memories of past deadly earthquakes.
On August 17, 1999, a huge earthquake measuring more than 7.0 magnitude near the city of Izmit devastated vast zones in the country’s densely populated northwestern zone, notably around Istanbul, killing over 17,000 people.