Two foreigners died early Friday and more than 100 people were injured on the Greek island of Kos when an earthquake shook popular Greek and Turkish holiday destinations in the Aegean Sea.
The epicentre of the 6.7 magnitude quake was some 10.3 kilometres south of the major Turkish resort of Bodrum, a magnet for holidaymakers in the summer, and 16.2km east of the island of Kos in Greece, the US Geological Survey said.
Police said a Swede and a Turk died in an area abuzz with nightlife but did not reveal their identities. State news agency ANA said the victims were respectively 27 and 39 years old.
They were found on the street, crushed either by the collapsed wall of a bar or by stones that fell from old houses nearby.
Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that although the port of Kos was closed to traffic, damage elsewhere was minimal.
“Things on the island seem to be under full control and normality has returned,” Tzanakopoulos told state TV ERT.
“The airport is operational and the roads are in good shape…there is no major damage to infrastructure or buildings,” he said.
Tzanakopoulos added that five people more badly hurt were being flown to a hospital on the island of Crete for treatment.
Kos attracts young tourists and during peak season has a capacity of around 100,000 beds, a local police official said, adding that more than 85 per cent were currently booked.
“People are worried but calm is slowly returning,” the official said.
With the port of Kos inaccessible, local ferry traffic was being rerouted to the neighbouring island of Kalymnos. Two helicopters had been sent to ferry the injured to the nearby island of Rhodes.
The Greek secretary of state for the merchant navy Nektarios Santorinios, said the injury toll had risen to 120.
The quake struck Friday at 0131 local time (2231 GMT Thursday).
‘We were scared’
It was also felt on the Greek island of Rhodes.
An AFP journalist staying in Theologos, about 30km from the town of Rhodes, said the hotel “rocked like a boat and I thought it was going to collapse”.
“We were very surprised. We were scared and we immediately went outside,” said 38-year-old Teddy Dijoux, who was holidaying with his family at a resort.
“That lasted a long time. I quickly gathered up my children to leave the hotel,” said holidaymaker Sylvie Jannot.
Reports said the state hospital in the popular Turkish resort of Bodrum was evacuated after cracks appeared, with new patients being examined in a garden outside.
The governor of the southern Mugla province — where Bodrum is located — said some people had been slightly injured after falling out of windows in panic.
Television footage showed throngs of worried residents and holidaymakers in Bodrum’s streets.
“The biggest problem at the moment are electricity cuts in certain areas (of the city),” Bodrum mayor Mehmet Kocadon told NTV television.
“There is light damage and no reports that anyone has been killed” in the area, he added.
The Adliye mosque in central Bodrum suffered some damage, with police cordoning it off to prevent people being wounded by fallen debris, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.
Turkish television said the earthquake triggered high waves off Gumbet near Bodrum which flooded a road and left parked cars stranded. There were no reports of casualties.
“The bed shook a lot. Some bottles fell and broke in the kitchen and the patio,” said Turkish pensioner Dilber Arikan, who has a summer house in the area.
“I screamed; I was very scared because I was alone.”
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 significant earthquakes, which brought back memories of past deadly earthquakes.
In June, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake gutted a village on the Greek island of Lesbos, killing a woman and leaving more than 15 injured. The quake also caused panic on Turkey’s Aegean coast.
On August 17, 1999, a huge earthquake measuring more than 7.0 magnitude near the city of Izmit devastated vast areas in the country’s densely populated northwestern zone, notably around Istanbul, killing over 17,000 people.