Athens.- (ANA-MPE, GreekNewsOnline)
At least 37 people died in Izmir (Smyrna) Turkey and 2 on the Island of Samos, Greece, following a powerful earthquake of 6.7 magnitude on the Richter scale in the eastern Aegean. Two high school students, 15 and 17 years old respectively lost their lives when a wall of a deserted house collapsed in Vathi, Samos,
Three young children and their mother were rescued alive from the rubble of a collapsed building in western Turkey, while more than 800 people were injured.
The earthquake triggered a small tsunami in the Seferihisar district of Izmir and on the island of Samos. Hundreds of aftershocks followed.
The State’s imperative duty is to stand by the island of Samos, said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Saturday, speaking at the island where he visited to assess the earthquake’s aftermath and to draw an action plan with a team of key ministers and local officials, following Friday’s 6.7 Richter scale tremor there.
The Greek Premier visited the town of Vathi, where he met with the parents of the two teenagers who lost their lives at the earthquake, where he personally expressed condolences and his deep sorrow for the tragic event.
“Two young children lost their lives because a wall of an uninhabited building collapsed on them. I think we have a debt as a State and as a local government to look at this problem again. This is an issue that is very often pointed out to us by experts, as we know that new buildings are resistant to earthquakes even stronger than the one we experienced on Friday, but this does not apply to old, dangerous uninhabited buildings. We will deal with this problem, as I think it is the least we can do to honor the memory of these two young victims.”
Also at Vathi, he met with and thanked rescue teams, the army as well as volunteers who collect damage registration applications, and then toured the town to see the damages that households and businesses have suffered. He talked to citizens and businessmen on the island who suffered damages by a post-quake tsunami.
At the town of Karlovasi, he saw the damages at the Panagia Theotokos local church and committed to see them repaired. There, he also met with Western Samos mayor Alexandros Lyberis, who thanked the Prime Minister for both the government’s response to the emergencies caused by the quake, but also for finding a solution to the island’s migration issue, thanking the Prime Minister personally on the latter.
Earlier on Saturday, Mitsotakis also chaired a broad meeting at Samos with Deputy Minister of Civil Protection & Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias, several key ministers and local officials.
“I wanted to gain a first-hand understanding of the damages, the immediate next steps that need to be taken, and also begin to draw medium-term interventions that need to be pursued, mainly in matters concerning public and private infrastructure,” he stressed.
The municipalities of eastern and western Samos were on Saturday declared in a state of emergency for six months, until April 30 2021, by order of minister Hardalias.
The Chios island municipality was also declared in a state of emergency on Saturday following a meeting of local officials, in view of extensive post-quake damages there.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in a phone call expressed condolences to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Turkey’s victims, on Friday.
Later on Twitter, the Greek premier wrote in English: “I just called President Erdogan to offer my condolences for the tragic loss of life from the earthquake that struck both our countries. Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together.”
In his response, the Turkish president’s spokesman Fahrettin Altun also conveyed Erdogan’s condolences and the hope there is no more loss of human lives. This tragedy is a reminder of once again of how close the two countries are, despite their political differences, the spokesman said, adding that Turkey is prepared to help Greece if needed.
Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias also spoke with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu after a powerful earthquake shook coastal Turkey and the Greek island of Samos on Friday afternoon.
Following the call, the Greek Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a tweet in English: “Following the earthquake that hit Samos & Izmir, FM Nikos Dendias reached out to his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu expressing Greece’s readiness to immediately send to Turkey members of the disaster relief unit, in order to help in extracting people trapped in buildings.”
SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance party leader Alexis Tsipras said that the earthquake that shook both sides of the Aegean is an opportunity for the easing of tensions between Greece and Turkey, in two separate tweets on Twitter.
“It is time to put an end to the provocations of maritime research ships and warships, and for solidarity to prevail in meeting the challenges that unite the two peoples,” he noted in the first post. Referring directly to the earthquake, he said in his second post that it “tests the endurance of the peoples on both ends of the Aegean,” and the time has come for both countries to work together through the inclusion of Greek rescue teams in the efforts at Izmir.
The European Union, NATO and WHO expressed their support to Greece and Turkey on Friday following an earthquake with magnitude 6.7 on the Richter scale in the Aegean.
The heads of the European Commission, its chief of Foreign Affairs, the European Council, the Europarliament, and the Council of Europe, along with the NATO secretary general, all expressed their condolences to the families of victims and said they were prepared to help in any way needed.
Several European and Balkan countries also expressed their condolences and offered their help, while the World Health Organization said it was following developments in both countries closely. WHO’s chief said that the organization will work with Greece and Turkey to ensure that emergency medical help is provided to all who need it.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said the patriarchate “during these trying times for the two neighboring peoples of Turkey and Greece is praying for the souls of our fellow beings who lost their lives and for the return to health of those injured” at the earthquake that struck both Samos and Izmir. The patriarch said he had also communicated with Samos Metropolitan Evsevios and Izmir Metropolitan Bartholomew.