Greek PM pledges swift aid to Samos Island after 6.7-magnitude quake


ATHENS, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis pledged on Saturday immediate and full support to the residents of Samos Island in the Aegean Sea, which was hit a day earlier by a deadly earthquake.

Mitsotakis toured the island, expressed in person condolences to the families of two teenagers who died when a wall from an old building collapsed on them, and presided over meetings with local officials, as experts were assessing the extent of the material damages on infrastructure, homes and businesses.

"It is the state's duty to stand by the island, to disburse the relevant compensations as soon as possible, so that Samos can go back to its normal rhythms as soon as possible," he said in statements broadcast on Greek national broadcaster ERT.

On Friday, a strong earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale hit the Aegean Sea between the Turkish coast and the Greek island of Samos. The quake left two dead and a dozen injured on Samos, material damages also to the nearby island of Chios, according to local authorities. Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Saturday that the death toll from the quake has increased to 35.

On Saturday, Samos and Chios were declared in a state of emergency.

Given that Greece is a seismic prone country that often witnessed catastrophic quakes in recent history, like Turkey, the Greek prime minister also stressed that the state will make any efforts possible to boost anti-seismic protection.

In 1999, a 6-magnitude quake near Athens caused over 140 deaths, more than 1,500 injuries and extensive damages. It was the worst tragedy linked to an earthquake in many decades in Greece.

"We are a seismic prone country; this is not the last big earthquake that will happen in Greece. We know this and should at the level of civil protection have all those means at our disposal so that where there is a possibility -- and in the case of a tsunami, for example, there is -- to warn citizens to take all protective measures," Mitsotakis said on Saturday, according to ERT.

On Friday Greek authorities issued a warning for a small tsunami and low waves swept a part of Samos' coasts.

A few hours after Friday's quake, Mitsotakis exchanged condolences and offers for aid during a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a development which raised hopes that may lead to an improvement of icy ties between the two countries which are at odds over maritime borders.

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