The death toll is climbing by the hour after a powerful earthquake struck the Aegean Sea off the coast of Turkey and the Greek island of Samos. At least 19 people are dead and hundreds are injured after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit early Friday, rattling cities and unleashing a tsunami that flooded streets in western Turkey.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency said 17 people died and 709 people were injured, Reuters reported. Two teenagers, a boy and a girl, died on Samos.
It’s not yet clear how many people have been crushed in their own homes in Turkey, a country that’s infamous for poor quality construction. Rescue workers are searching through the rubble for survivors and bodies.
Duygu Kati, a high school principal, told CBS News she safely evacuated all her students. She said the building almost collapsed.
Because it’s positioned on a number of major fault lines, Turkey is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries, according to Reuters. More than 17,000 people have died as a result of earthquakes in the nation in recent decades.
Greek seismologist Akis Tselentis told a state broadcaster that there’s a heightened risk of aftershocks powerful enough to topple buildings because the earthquake’s epicenter had a shallow depth, The Associated Press reported.
Turkey and Greece are currently fighting over exploration rights in the Mediterranean, Reuters reported — but both leaders tweeted about the need for solidarity during times of crisis.
“Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together,” wrote Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. “That two neighbors show solidarity in difficult times is more valuable than many things in life,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said.
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