Massive Earthquake Rocks Western Turkey

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Ankara: A strong earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 has struck near the coast of western Turkey and the Greek island of Lesbos, a European earthquake monitor said.

The epicentre of the quake was located some 84 km (52 miles) northwest of the Aegean coastal province of Izmir, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said on its website.

The Greek island of Lesbos has also been rattled.  It wasn’t immediately clear if the quake caused any major damage in Turkey or Greece. Earthquakes are common in both countries.

Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management said that the earthquake was in the Aegean Sea at a depth of seven kilometers (more than four miles) and hit at 3:28 p.m. (1228 GMT). Tremors were also felt in densely-populated Istanbul and in the western Turkish provinces of Izmir.

Private Dogan news agency showed residents in western Turkey leaving buildings. State-run radio in Greece said hundreds of residents left buildings and waited out in the street in Lesbos’ capital, Mytilene.

Major geological fault lines cross Turkey and small earthquakes are almost a daily occurrence. More than 600 people died in October 2011 in the eastern province of Van after a quake of 7.2 magnitude and powerful aftershocks. In 1999, two massive earthquakes killed about 20,000 people in the densely populated northwest.