Authorities in Greece have declared a state of emergency on the island of Lesbos after an earthquake left one woman dead and more than 800 people displaced. A magnitude 6.3 earthquake, which lasted for approximately one minute, rattled Turkey's western coastal cities as well Istanbul and Bursa provinces to the north.
Officials from the island's regional government said homes in 12 villages in southern Lesbos had been seriously damaged or destroyed. The mostly elderly residents affected were being housed with relatives, in hotels or at an army-run shelter. Lesser damage was reported on the neighboring island Chios. There were no reports of damage or casualties at the refugee camps in the east and north of Lesbos where thousands live.
The earthquake marked the second crisis to hit the island in the last two years, after hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees, including many fleeing war in Syria and Iraq, crossed to Lesbos on boats from Turkey as they headed to Europe.
Scientists recorded 35 minor magnitude 3.0 and higher earthquakes in the Aegean Sea over 12 hours after Monday's magnitude 6.3 quake struck near Turkey's western coast, Turkey's Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said yesterday.
AFAD experts stated that seismic activities have continued since Monday 3:31 PM local time. The largest aftershock had a magnitude of 4.9, while six others also measured in at over magnitude 4.0. AFAD announced that the epicenter of the earthquake was located off the coast of western Izmir's Karaburun district, while authorities confirmed that there were no casualties in Turkey.
The earthquake comes about two weeks after a 5.1 magnitude quake hit Manisa, a province east of Izmir. No casualties were reported, but the relatively higher magnitude earthquakes in the region of late have sparked concerns.
Turkey are among the world's most seismically active countries as it is situated on several active fault lines, with the most potentially devastating one being the Northern Anatolia Fault (NAF), the meeting point of the Anatolian and Eurasian tectonic plates.
The NAF, a strike-slip fault formed as the Anatolian plate was being pushed northwestwards by the Arabian plate, has produced devastating earthquakes throughout history, with the most recent ones being magnitude 7.4 and 7.2 earthquakes in northwestern Izmit and Düzce provinces in August and December 1999. The 1999 earthquakes killed thousands in Kocaeli, Adapazarı, Istanbul, Yalova and nearby towns in the northwest, which serve as Turkey's economic and industrial heartland. A month later, a 5.9-magnitude quake killed 143 people in Athens and the region northwest of the capital. Turkey's most recent earthquake-related disaster took place in October 2011 in the eastern province of Van after a 7.2 magnitude quake and its powerful aftershocks lead to the destruction of thousands of buildings and the death of over 600 people.