Quake rocks Greece, Turkey
Beach resorts struck; two tourists die; injured people top 500
KOS, Greece — The number of people injured in an earthquake that shook beach resorts early Friday in Greece and Turkey, killing two tourists when a building collapsed on a bar in the Greek island of Kos, rose to nearly 500.
Only a few miles apart, Kos and the Turkish resort of Bodrum were hit hours before dawn by the shallow undersea quake that caused a 2-foot sea swell and havoc among residents and thousands of vacationers at bars and restaurants.
The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake’s magnitude at 6.7, with Greek and Turkish estimates a fraction lower.
“It was shocking, terrifying,” Kos resident Vassilis Megas said. “The whole house shook back and forth. People ran out into streets. We did, too, and stayed out all night.”
Two men — from Turkey and Sweden — were killed when a collapsing wall smashed into White Corner Club, a bar in the “old town” area of Kos. Several others were seriously injured and airlifted to larger hospitals in Greece; one person had to have a leg amputated, and another had life-threatening head injuries, doctors said.
Many of the other injuries occurred when tourists and residents scrambled out of buildings and even leapt from balconies. Hundreds of revelers were in the White Corner Club at the time.
“It was shaking a bit, and I was like, ‘OK.’ Then everything. I saw the bar just floating around and drinks flying all over the place. I saw people freezing and then running out, pushing,” said Linda Lundgren, who works at a nearby bar.
“I saw every bartender jumping over the bar,” she said.
The quake occurred in the midst of Greece and Turkey’s summer tourism industry. Afterward, many people spent the night outside, sleeping on sunbeds and at cafes.
Most of the injuries, about 350, occurred in Turkey, in Bodrum and other beach resorts, as people fled buildings and as the sea swell flung cars off the road and pushed boats ashore.
Seismologists said the shallow depth of the quake was to blame for the damage and the sea swell that scattered cars, boats, and trash bins across shores in the east Aegean Sea.
“For the strength of this earthquake, followed by so many aftershocks, the damage was actually quite limited. Most people have been cleared to return home,” said Greek seismologist Efthymios Lekkas, who led a government inspection team on Kos.
In Kos, the quake damaged churches, an old mosque, the port’s 14th-century castle and old buildings in the town.
“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,” Kos Mayor Giorgos Kyritsis said, noting that a deadly earthquake in 1933 had flattened the island’s main town.
Turkish companies provided additional flights and ferries to Kos to return citizens home after the earthquake.
Rubble sits outside a bar where two people were killed after an earthquake Friday on the island of Kos, Greece.