Disasters & Accidents

Thousands sleep outside in Izmir following deadly quake

Lara Villalón

Izmir, Oct 31 (efe-epa).- Nurhan Altay frantically serves tea and coffee to dozens of people wandering through the Bayrakli neighborhood in Izmir, where hours earlier a magnitude-6.8 earthquake shook the Turkish coast, causing at least 24 deaths and injuring more than 800 people in the city.

In a nearby coastal town, one woman died after drowning in the tsunami triggered by the earthquake, while at least two people died on the Greek island of Samos, off Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.

“My building has collapsed, tonight I will not be able to go home. For the moment we are still here, helping where we can, serving hot drinks,” Altay told Efe.

His small cafe is a hive of activity during the early hours of Saturday morning with groups of young people and families who have spent the night outdoors for fear that the buildings of their homes have suffered such damage that they will collapse, especially given the hundreds of aftershocks.

“My sister is sleeping in a tent in a park. There are four of us sleeping in a car. We are afraid to go home,” said Gizem, a young woman from the neighborhood.

Since the earthquake struck on Friday afternoon, more than 400 aftershocks have been recorded, of which 33 have exceeded magnitude 4, according to Turkey’s emergency services.

Bayrakli, where almost a dozen buildings have collapsed, is one of the neighbourhoods most affected by the earthquake, which shook the Anatolian coast and the Greek island of Samos on Friday, particularly affecting Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city with four million inhabitants.

Authorities have concluded search and rescue operations at eight collapsed buildings, but their work continues in another nine, where there may be between 10 and 12 people trapped, according to government sources. Other sources estimate that there could be as many as 20 still trapped in the rubble.

The blocks adjacent to the collapsed buildings do not appear to be affected, but authorities have advised that no one should sleep there until the damage is fully assessed.

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