The death toll from an earthquake that struck the Aegean Sea on Friday has risen to over 71, as rescue efforts continued on Sunday to extricate people from beneath the rubbles.
At least 51 people are now known to have died in Turkey's coastal city of Izmir, the country's' disaster and emergency management authority (AFAD) confirmed on Sunday morning. Nearly 900 more were injured — two thirds of whom have now been discharged from hospital.
The 6.6-magnitude earthquake hit in the Aegean Sea on Friday afternoon, leading to significant damage in both Turkey and Greece.
Greek authorities have so far deplored the death of two children on the island of Samos.
But Izmir is the most heavily impacted. At least a dozen buildings were severely damaged or destroyed by the initial quakes and the hundreds of aftershocks that ensued. Parts of the city were also flooded by seawater.
More than 40 hours after the earthquake, search and rescue teams are still looking for survivors in eight buildings in the hopes of finding survivors.
Shortly after midnight, Ahmet Citim, 70, was pulled out from the rubble. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted that he said: "I never lost my hope."
It is unclear how many people remain trapped under the rubble. Turkish media reported three more people were pulled out Sunday from one collapsed apartment building but their conditions were not known.
Turkey is criss-crossed by fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. In 1999, two powerful quakes killed some 18,000 people in northwestern Turkey. Earthquakes are frequent in Greece as well.
In a rare show of unity amid months of tense bilateral relations, Greek and Turkish government officials issued mutual messages of solidarity over the quake toll.
The quake occurred as Turkey was already struggling with an economic downturn and the coronavirus pandemic. So far, more than 10,000 people with the virus have died in Turkey, and some experts have accused the government of concealing the true impact of the virus with the way it counts cases.