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Turkey: Rescuers race to find earthquake survivors

Rescue workers have been searching through rubble to save people buried under the debris of collapsed buildings after a powerful earthquake hit the Aegean Sea on Friday, killing tens of people.

Watch video 02:17

Turkey: Rescuers search for survivors of massive quake

Rescue teams on Saturday raced against the clock to save survivors buried under concrete blocks and rubble following a powerful earthquake that struck Turkey's Aegean coast and north of the Greek island of Samos, killing at least 27 people.   

More than 800 others were injured.

The quake hit Friday afternoon, toppling buildings in Izmir, Turkey's third-largest city, and triggering a small tsunami in the district of Seferihisar and on Samos. The quake was followed by hundreds of aftershocks.

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

A man walks among debris of collapsed buildings in Izmir following the quake

The quake toppled a number of buildings in Izmir

Television images and videos showed delicate work to rescue people from under the rubble.

Early on Saturday, onlookers cheered as rescuers lifted teenager Inci Okan out of the rubble of a devastated eight-floor apartment block in Izmir's Bayrakli district. Her dog, Fistik, was also rescued, the Sozcu newspaper reported. Friends and relatives waited outside the building for news of loved ones still trapped inside.

In another collapsed building, rescuers made contact with a 38-year-old woman and her four children — aged 3, 7 and 10-year-old twins — and were working to clear a corridor to bring them out, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

In all, around 100 people have been rescued since the earthquake, Murat Kurum, the environment and urban planning minister, told reporters. Some 5,000 rescue personnel were working on the ground, Kurum said.

Rare show of warmth

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.

Read more: Greece and Turkey: A difficult friendship

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.

This is the second powerful earthquake to hit Turkey this year after one in the eastern city of Elazig killed more than 30 people in January.

The earthquake was felt as far away as Athens and Istanbul.

sri/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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