A POWERFUL earthquake has rocked Turkey as it destroyed buildings and triggered a tsunami that swept through coastal towns.
The quake registered a 7.0 of the richter scale and had its epicentre 11 miles north of the island of Greek island Samos off the coast of Turkey.
The US Geological survey said the enormous tremor was felt as far away as Athens and Istanbul.
At least 20 buildings in Izmir, a Turkish city with population of 4.4million, are said to have collapsed, Mayor Tunc Soyer told CNN Turk.
Rescue efforts are already under way – but there is no confirmation on the number of deaths of injuries.
The emergency authority said it sent search and rescue teams to Izmir.
People flooded onto the streets in the tourist city of Izmir, witnesses said, after the quake struck.
A magnitude 7.6 tremor struck the city in 1999 killing 17,000 people.
Pictures and video posted on social media shows large clouds of dust rising over the city following the earthquake.
Other videos and pictures show surging sea water in Izmir province flowing into coastal towns.
People are seen running for their lives after as the apparent tsunami rushed in following the earthquake.
The quake struck at around 11.50am GMT and was felt along Turkey's Aegean coast and the northwestern Marmara region.
Turkeys Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency said Friday's earthquake was centered in the Aegean at a depth of 10.3 miles.
The quake was also felt across the eastern Greek islands and tusnami warnings were reportedly issued.
Greek media said the residents of Samos and other islands fled their homes, while some rockfalls were reported.
Seismologist Efthymios Lekkas told Greek state television ERT that it was still too early to say whether this was the main earthquake.
"It was a very big earthquake, it's difficult to have a bigger one," said Lekkas.
It is an event that is evolving, Lekkas said, adding that some damage had been reported in parts of Samos.
A tsunami warning was issued, with residents of the Samos area told to stay away from the coastline.
It read: "Stay away from the coast. Danger from high waves due to earthquake."
Water rose above the dock in the main harbor of Samos and flooded the street.
The regional governor of the Samos region, Yiannis Stamoulis, said no injuries had been reported on the island.
Residents have also been told to stay away from buildings, as aftershocks continued to rattle the area.
The Deputy Mayor of Eastern Samos said to ANT1 that buildings have fallen and that there are reports of large waves.
One of the fallen buildings on the island is the church of Panagia Theotokou in Karlovasi.
The chief of Samos hospital workers union told: The Greek City Times: "A few minutes ago we experienced a very big earthquake similar to that Samos has been experiencing for many years.
"People are panicking. They have gone out in the squares, in the streets."
He added: “It was an earthquake that lasted several minutes. Very strong."
More to follow…
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