Deadly jolt

Tourists stranded as dis­as­ter strikes off Greek, Turk­ish coasts

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE -

At least two die as earth­quake hits off Greek, Turk­ish coasts

KOS, Greece — A pow­er­ful earth­quake sent a build­ing crash­ing down on tourists at a bar on the Greek hol­i­day is­land of Kos and struck panic on the nearby shores of Turkey on Fri­day, killing two tourists and in­jur­ing nearly 500 peo­ple.

Res­cue au­thor­i­ties said two men from Turkey and Swe­den died in the col­lapse at the White Cor­ner Club when the 6.5-mag­ni­tude quake struck at about 1:30 am, rat­tling Greek is­lands and the Turk­ish Aegean coast in a re­gion where seis­mic ac­tiv­ity is com­mon.

At least five other peo­ple were se­ri­ously in­jured on Kos as tourists and lo­cal res­i­dents scram­bled out of build­ings, some even leap­ing from bal­conies. Five of the in­jured were be­ing trans­ported by he­li­copter to a hos­pi­tal on the is­land of Crete, of­fi­cials said.

“There was bang­ing. There was shak­ing. The light was swing­ing, bang­ing on the ceil­ing, crock­ery falling out of the cup­boards, and pans were mak­ing noise,” said Christo­pher Hack­land, a Scot­tish div­ing in­struc­tor.

“There was a lot of scream­ing and cry­ing and hys­ter­ics com­ing from the ho­tel. It felt like be­ing at a theme park with one of the il­lu­sions, an op­ti­cal il­lu­sion where you feel like you’re up­side down.”

Tens of thou­sands of tourists spent the night out­doors on Kos, many sleep­ing on sun beds along beaches as a quake-re­lated sea swell sub­sided. The quake dam­aged churches, an old mosque, and the port’s 14 th cen­tury cas­tle, along with old build­ings in the town.

In nearby Turkey, en­su­ing panic caused mi­nor in­juries, ac­cord­ing to Esen­gul Civelek, gov­er­nor of Mugla prov­ince. In Bitez, a re­sort town about 6 kilo­me­ters west of Bo­drum, the quake sent fright­ened res­i­dents run­ning into the streets.

Ho­tel guests briefly re­turned to their rooms to pick up their be­long­ings but chose to spend the rest of the night out­side, with some us­ing sheets and cush­ions bor­rowed from nearby lounge chairs to build makeshift beds.

Sev­eral Greek govern­ment min­is­ters, as well as res­cuers with snif­fer dogs and struc­tural en­gi­neers trav­eled to Kos overnight to co­or­di­nate the res­cue ef­fort. The Bri­tish For­eign Of­fice warned trav­el­ers of the pos­si­bil­ity of af­ter­shocks, urg­ing them to fol­low the ad­vice of the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

Au­thor­i­ties said there were no re­ported in­juries of refugees and mi­grants at camps on the is­land.

Ris­ing sea­wa­ter

A seafront road and parts of the is­land’s main town were flooded for sev­eral hours, and the ris­ing sea­wa­ter even pushed a boat onto the main road and caused sev­eral cars to slam into each other. Ferry ser­vices were can­celed un­til fur­ther in­spec­tion, with pas­sen­gers rerouted to nearby is­lands.

Greek of­fi­cials said the quake was mag­ni­tude-6.5 and the nu­mer­ous af­ter­shocks were weaker but still could put at risk the build­ings that were al­ready dam­aged.

“The dam­age on the is­land (of Kos) is not wide­spread. The air­port is work­ing, and the road net­work and in­fra­struc­ture are in good shape,” Greek govern­ment spokesman Dim­itris Tzanakopou­los said.

“The dam­age was at the bar and the old part of the town and we had the very un­for­tu­nate deaths of the two peo­ple.”

The col­lapsed build­ing dated to the 1930s, ac­cord­ing to Kos Mayor Gior­gos Kyrit­sis. “There are not many old build­ings left on Kos. Nearly all the struc­tures on the is­land have been built un­der the new codes to with­stand earth­quakes,” the mayor said.

Res­cuers were check­ing for trapped peo­ple in­side houses across Kos at dozens of vil­lages and other sites, but said the dam­age was con­fined to the is­land’s main town.


Medics at­tend to a man in­jured dur­ing Fri­day’s earth­quake on the Greek is­land of Kos. The quake claimed the lives of two peo­ple.

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