Turkish rescue workers search for survivors in quake; death toll rises to 27

ANKARA (Reuters) – Rescue workers in western Turkish city of Izmir searched through rubble for survivors on Saturday after a powerful earthquake hit the Aegean Sea on Friday, as the death toll rose to 27.

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Officials said 25 people were killed in coastal areas in Turkey’s west, while two teenagers — a boy and a girl — died on the Greek island of Samos after a wall collapsed on them.

At least 20 buildings in Izmir were destroyed, authorities said, and the rescue work was taking place as hundreds of aftershocks hit the area.

Television images and videos showed delicate work to rescue people from under the rubble. In central Izmir, rescuers were seeking to save a mother and her four children from the remains of a building.

Search and rescue operations were complete in eight buildings, while operations continued in nine locations, officials said.

At least 804 people were injured in Turkey, the country’s disaster agency said. The area had been hit by some 470 aftershocks it said.

The leaders of Turkey and Greece – caught up in a bitter dispute over exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean – spoke by phone late on Friday.

In a rare show of warmth between the two countries, Turkish and Greek leaders exchanged solidarity messages.

“I just called President (Tayyip Erdogan) to offer my condolences for the tragic loss of life from the earthquake that struck both our countries. Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted.

Erdogan responded in a tweet:

“I offer my condolences to all of Greece on behalf of myself and the Turkish people. Turkey, too, is always ready to help Greece heal its wounds. That two neighbors show solidarity in difficult times is more valuable than many things in life.”

Turkey is crossed by fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. Cooperation between the two countries after a devastating earthquake in 1999 led to a period of warmer ties between them.

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