(AFP) – Rescuers dug by means of heavy blocks of concrete with their naked arms Saturday in a determined seek for survivors from a strong earthquake that levelled buildings throughout Greece and Turkey, killing at the least 26 folks.

The quake struck late Friday afternoon, inflicting a mini-tsunami on the Aegean island of Samos and a sea surge that turned streets into dashing rivers in a city on Turkey‘s west coast.

The US (*26*) Survey stated the 7.0 magnitude tremor hit 14 kilometres (9 miles) off the Greek city of Karlovasi on Samos.

Felt in each Istanbul and Athens, it additionally created a diplomatic opening for the 2 historic rivals, with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis inserting a uncommon name to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to supply his condolences and assist.

Hospital sufferers on avenue

Much of the injury occurred in and round Turkey‘s Aegean resort metropolis of Izmir, which has three million residents and is crammed with high-rise residence blocks.

Parts of whole flats, together with toys, pillows and shattered home equipment, spilled out on the streets, the place survivors huddled in tears, many too shocked to talk.

Aerial footage confirmed whole metropolis blocks turned to rubble.

“I thought: Is it going to end? It felt like 10 minutes, like it was never going to end,” stated Gokhan Kan, a 32-year-old courier.

“I was terrified not for myself in that moment but for my family, my wife and four-year-old son.”

Izmir’s mayor Tunc Soyer instructed CNN Turk that 20 buildings had collapsed, with officers focusing their rescue efforts on 17 of them.

Turkey‘s catastrophe aid company reported 24 deaths and 800 accidents, whereas in Greece two youngsters died on their manner house from faculty on Samos when a wall collapsed.

The scenes of devastation steered the toll may rise.

One Izmir hospital rolled a few of its sufferers — nonetheless strapped into their beds and hooked as much as drips — out on the road as a precaution.

Turkey‘s non secular affairs directorate opened its mosques to assist shelter a few of these left homeless by the catastrophe.

‘Remain calm’

Images on social media confirmed water dashing by means of the streets of one of many cities close to Izmir from an obvious sea surge.

Thick white plumes of smoke towered over numerous elements of town the place huge buildings had collapsed.

Rescuers, helped by residents and sniffer canine, used chainsaws to attempt to power their manner by means of the rubble of 1 destroyed seven-floor constructing.

At one other web site, Agriculture Minister Bekir Pakdemirli managed to determine cell phone contact with a woman buried beneath the particles.

“We ask you to remain calm,” he instructed her in televised footage. “We will try to lift the concrete block and reach you.”

NTV tv stated as much as six folks had been trapped on the web site, together with the lady’s cousin.

The area’s governor stated 70 folks had been pulled out alive by Friday night, though what number of extra had been lacking remained unknown by sundown.

Rescuers arrange tents in a small park away from the cracked and broken buildings for households to spend the night time in security and relative heat.

“Because we live in Izmir, we have pretty warm weather, we can make it through today, we can make it through tomorrow,” stated Cemalettin Enginyurt, a retired soldier. “But we can’t think of anything on the long term, we are helpless.”

‘Earthquake diplomacy’

On the Greek island of Samos, close to the quake’s epicentre, folks rushed out into the streets in panic.

“It was chaos,” stated deputy mayor Giorgos Dionysiou. “We have never experienced anything like this.”

The Greek civil safety company instructed Samos residents in a textual content message to “stay out in the open and away from buildings”.

Greece and Turkey are located in one of many world’s most energetic earthquake zones.

The two neighbours additionally endure from traditionally poor relations regardless of each being members of the NATO navy alliance.

But the quake noticed a spurt of what pundits instantly termed “earthquake diplomacy”, with calls exchanged by their international ministers after which, hours later, the Greek prime minister and Erdogan.

“Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together,” Mitsotakis stated on Twitter.

“Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister,” Erdogan tweeted in reply. “That two neighbours show solidarity in difficult times is more valuable than many things in life.”

The US State Department stated Washington was “heartened” by the newfound cooperation.

France, whose President Emmanuel Macron has sparred repeatedly with Erdogan prior to now yr, stated it stood in “full solidarity” with the 2 international locations.

In 1999, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey‘s northwest, killing greater than 17,000 folks, together with 1,000 in Istanbul.

In Greece, the final lethal quake killed two folks on the island of Kos, close to Samos, in July 2017.