Two children died when a wall fell on them on the island of Samos on Thursday, the first reported Greek casualties of an earthquake that registered 6.7 on the Richter scale midday on Friday.
The earthquake, that killed at least 6 people in the Izmir area of Turkey, injured over 200 and and caused extensive damage to buildings, struck at 13:51 in the sea region 16 km north-northwest of Samos, the Geodynamic Institute of the National Observatory of Athens said.
A girl and a boy were returning from school in Vathy when the earthquake struck, causing the collapse of the first floor of a building they were walking by.
The Fire Brigade pulled the children out of the rubble.
The strong quake recorded in the sea northwest of the island of Samos earlier on Friday was felt in all the islands of the Dodecanese and especially the more northern islands, where many of the residents of Patmos, Kos, Kalymnos, Agathonissi fled from their homes.
According to initial information from the region of South Aegean, no damages have been reported on any island of the Dodecanese and the Cyclades island groups. Samos and Chios reported damage, while authorities sped to reopen the airport on Samos.
It was a very shallow earthquake close to the surface (latest estimate at 2 km) and was felt throughout Greece, the president of Greece’s Earthquake Planning and Protection Organisation Professor Efthymios Lekkas said on Friday, after the strong tremor near Samos, adding that there was a warning for a small tsunami.
He advised people not to panic, noting at the same time that “earthquakes as a event always worry us.”
Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said that all hospitals, health centres and emergency aid centres on Samos and Ikaria have been put on full alert in the wake of the strong earthquake that shook the region. In a tweet on Friday, he said that special search and rescue teams are on their way to Samos.
Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias is on Samos, being briefed on the impact of the strong earthquake in the region and coordinating the actions of the state to assess the damages and take measures against the possibility of major aftershocks.
The Civil Protection service has warned the citizens of the islands near Samos to avoid going near buildings at risk of collapse and to stay outdoors in open, safe spaces, to avoid making non-essential phone calls and to follow the authorities instructions.
The airport of Samos reopened earlier than originally announced on Friday afternoon and the general secretary of the Infrastructure and Transport Ministry, Giorgos Karagiannis, and a team of civil engineers are on their way to the island to assess the damage to the island’s infrastructure.
Four people on the island of Samos had been brought in with slight injuries by 15:30 on Friday, none of them life-threatening, following the powerful earthquake that jolted the island , Samos Hospital authorities reported.
Injured people are also being transported from Karlovasi in the eastern part of the island but there is no information concerning their condition. “These are mostly orthopaedic injuries,” staff said.