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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Earthquake hits Turkey and Greece killing two

The epicentre of the earthquake was approximately 10.3 kilometres south of the major Turkish resort of Bodrum

At least two people were killed on the Greek island of Kos on Friday when an earthquake of 6.7 magnitude shook the popular summer resort holiday destinations of the Dodecanese Islands in Greece and the Aegean coast of Turkey.

The epicentre of thee earthquake was approximately 10.3 kilometres south of the major Turkish resort of Bodrum, a magnet for holidaymakers in the summer, and 16.2 kilometres east of the island of Kos in Greece, with a depth of 10 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said.

Two tourists - one from Sweden, the other from Turkey - were killed when the ceiling of a bar collapsed. More than 100 people were injured as the tremors affected the Aegean and triggered a tsunami, causing localised flooding.

Tens of thousands of tourists cpoured out of their holiday hotels, preferring to spend the night in the relative safety of the streets. Among them was Scottish diving instructor Christopher Hackland who described scenes of panic after the earthquake struck.

"The instant reaction was to get ourselves out of the (hotel) room. 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 Mr Hackland, who is from the Scottiish capital, Edinburgh. "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."

Rescue workers on Kos say the damage is confined to the island's main town. Fire Service rescue chief Stephanos Kolokouris said that a search of dozens of villages and other sites on the island found no residents trapped in their homes.

"We are operating in the main town, and will remain there," he said. "We conducted a very extensive search of other areas where people are living and fortunately there was no serious problem."

In the Turkish resort of Bodrum, throngs of worried residents and holidaymakersalso took to the streets for safety.

"The biggest problem at the moment are electricity cuts in certain areas (of the city)," the town's mayor Mehmet Kocadon said. "There is light damage and no reports that anyone has been killed."

Reports said the state hospital in Bodrum was evacuated after cracks appeared, with incoming patients being examined in a garden outside.

The governor of the southern Mugla province -- where Bodrum is located -- said some people had been slightly injured after falling out of windows in panic.

The Adliye mosque in central Bodrum suffered some damage, with police cordoning it off to prevent people being wounded by fallen debris.

The earthquake was also felt on the Datca peninsula -- also a major resort area -- as well as Turkey's third city of Izmir on the Aegean to the north.

Turkish television said the earthquake triggered high waves off Gumbet near Bodrum which flooded the road and left parked cars stranded.

"The bed shook a lot. Some bottles fell and broke in the kitchen and the patio," said Turkish pensioner Dilber Arikan, who has a summer house in the area. "I screamed I was very scared because I was alone."

Erdinc Kalece, 47, and his son Baris, 23, were seeing out the night in the open air in the Turgutreis district outside Bodrum.

"My father and mother were sleeping, I was driving. It was very bad. The road was trembling and I heard a big tremor. I slowed down, waited," said Baris.

The larger Greek island of Rhodes also felt the tremors.

"We were very surprised. We were scared and we immediately went outside," said Teddy Dijoux, who is on holiday with his family on the island.

Turkey and Greece sit on significant fault lines and have regularly been hit by earthquakes in recent years.This year alone, Turkey's western Aegean coast was hit by several significant earthquakes.

In June, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake gutted a village on the Greek island of Lesbos, killing a woman and injured more than 15. and causing panic on Turkey's Aegean coast.

On August 17, 1999, a huge earthquake measuring more than 7.0 magnitude near the city of Izmit devastated vast areas in the country's densely populated northwestern zone, notably around Istanbul, killing more than 17,000 people.

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