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Magnitude 6.3 earthquake strikes off the coast of western Turkey

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 struck near the coast of Western Turkey on Monday, a European earthquake monitor said, shaking buildings in the Aegean province of Izmir and rattling areas close to some Greeks islands.

UPDATE: Extensive damage was reported at a village on the Greek island of Lesbos, which was at the forefront of a migration crisis two years ago when hundreds of thousands of war refugees landed there seeking a gateway into Europe.

TV footage showed collapsed buildings and debris blocking narrow streets at Vrisa, a community of around 600 people to the south of the island.

“Tens of buildings have collapsed and roads are blocked off,” said Marios Apostolides, the divisional commander of the fire brigade.

A woman was trapped in her collapsed home, while local officials said about 10 people were injured.

The quake was felt as far away as the Greek capital of Athens, some 367 km (228 miles) southwest of the island.

Major geological fault lines cross the region and small earthquakes are common, though anything higher than 5.5 is rare. Anything exceeding that is capable of causing extensive damage.

“The trembling was really bad. Everything in my clinic started shaking wildly, we all ran outside with the patients,” said Didem Eris, a 50-year-old dentist in Izmir’s Karsiyaka district. “We are very used to earthquakes as people of Izmir but this one was different. I thought to myself that this time we were going to die.”

Social media users who said they were in western Turkey reported a strong and sustained tremor.

“We will be seeing the aftershocks of this in the coming hours, days and weeks,” said Haluk Ozener, head of Turkey’s Kandilli Observatory, adding that the aftershocks could have magnitudes of up to 5.5.


The epicentre of the quake was located some 84 km (52 miles) northwest of the coastal city of Izmir, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said on its website. There were no reports of damage in Izmir, local officials told broadcaster NTV.

The quake also rattled the eastern Aegean close to the Samos and Lesbos Islands, an official at the Greek Geodynamics institute said.

Major geological fault lines cross Turkey and small earthquakes are almost a daily occurance.

More than 600 people died in October 2011 in the eastern province of Van after a quake of 7.2 magnitude and powerful aftershocks. In 1999, two massive earthquakes killed about 20,000 people in the densely populated northwest

Reuters

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