At least 30 people were killed and hundreds more were hurt on Friday after a powerful 7.0 earthquake struck off the Aegean coast of Turkey and north of the Greek island of Samos.
Both Izmir and Samos were flooded in the mini-tsunami that resulted from the quake, which was felt as far away as Athens and Istanbul, and on the island of Crete. A local journalist in Samos, Manos Stefanakis, told the BBC it was the biggest tremor to have hit the island since 1904. Samos is home to just 45,000 people.
The tremor struck at 1:51 pm Greek time (7:51 am ET) at a depth of six miles (10 km) below the surface, according to the USGS.
In Turkey’s provincial capital of Izmir, at least 2,000 people were evacuated amid fears more buildings would collapse after 20 buildings in the city had already done so, according to the BBC. Izmir is Turkey’s third largest city.
The death toll may still rise, more than 800 were injured and at least 100 survivors had been rescued from the rubble by Saturday, according to Turkey’s Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum, who spoke with reporters. Kurum said there were still approximately 180 people still trapped. At least 35 aftershocks of more than 4.0 magnitude have made it difficult for rescue workers to get to those still under the rubble, according to Turkey’s national disaster agency, Afad.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said that to its knowledge, all members of the Jewish community in Izmir are safe. The Israeli Consulate in Istanbul posted a tweet expressing condolences to the People of Turkey and “to the families of the people who lost their lives in the earthquake in the Aegean,” and wished speedy recovery to the wounded, adding that Israel is ready to send humanitarian assistance if needed.
We extend our condolences to the People of Turkey and to the families of the people who lost their lives in the earthquake in the Aegean today and wishes speedy recovery to the wounded. Israel is ready to send humanitarian assistance in case needed.
— Israel in Istanbul (@IsraelIstanbul) October 30, 2020
Although Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz instructed the IDF to prepare emergency aid for Turkey soon after the earthquake struck, Ankara declined to accept the offer of assistance. In fact, Turkey wanted help from no one.
İzmir depremi dolayısıyla geçmiş olsun ve taziye mesajlarını ileterek yardıma hazır olduğunu bildiren tüm dost ülkelere teşekkür ediyorum.
Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devleti olarak tüm kurumlarımızla sahada vatandaşımızın yanındayız, duruma tam olarak hakimiz. pic.twitter.com/2Qy8GLy3kB
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) October 31, 2020
Shortly after, in a statement on Twitter, Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan thanked all the countries that offered earthquake assistance, including Israel, for their “good wishes and statements of support following the earthquake in Izmir.”
Erdogan also wrote in a statement on Twitter that he had called his Greek counterpart to offer his condolences “to all of Greece on behalf of myself and the Turkish people. Turkey, too, is always ready to help Greece heal its wounds. That two neighbors show solidarity in difficult times is more valuable than many things in life.”
The tweet came in response to one posted by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who wrote in a statement that he had just called Erdogan to offer his 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.”
Relations between the two nations have been strained for some time due to attempts on the part of Turkey to breach the boundaries of Greek territory.