At least four people have been killed in western Turkey after a powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit the Aegean Sea on Friday afternoon, sending buildings crashing down in coastal areas.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced the death toll on Twitter, as people in and around the Turkish city of Izmir gathered in the streets after fleeing their buildings to seek safety.
At least 20 buildings were destroyed in Izmir, the city’s mayor told CNN Turk.
Zeki Soysal, a resident in Izmir province, said that he made it out of his office building just in time before it collapsed.
“There was an older woman in the building but we saved her, she got out. There is another building close to this building. They are continuing to try to get the people out,” he said.
The quake struck 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) northeast of the town of Néon Karlovásion on the Greek island of Samos, the USGS reported, at 1:51 pm Greek time (7:51 a.m. ET).
But the quake struck at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), making its impact powerfully felt at ground level around the epicenter. Turkey’s disaster agency recorded the depth at 17 kilometers.
The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted: “Get well soon İzmir.”
“With all the means of our state, we stand by our citizens affected by the earthquake. We took action to start the necessary work in the region with all our relevant institutions and ministers,” Erdogan said.
(With input from agencies)