Experts are examining damage to infrastructure and cultural monuments on the Greek island of Kos after an earthquake killed two tourists and injured nearly 500 other people in the Aegean Sea region that stretches to the Turkish coast.
Churches, a mosque, the 14th-century castle and other Kos buildings suffered and are being checked by archaeologists and experts from Greece’s Culture Ministry.
Hundreds of residents and tourists spent the night sleeping outdoors on the island, too afraid to return to their homes or hotels after the quake that struck early on Friday.
Many camped in parks and olive groves, or slept in their cars or on beach and swimming pool loungers.
The US Geological Survey measured magnitude 6.7, with Greek and Turkish estimates a fraction lower.
Two men, a Turk and a Swede, were killed when a collapsing wall smashed into a popular bar in the Old Town of Kos.
The most seriously injured in Greece were airlifted to hospitals on the mainland and Crete, and at least two remain in a critical condition.
The Turkish man’s parents were on the island making arrangements to repatriate his body by boat.
Panagiotis Bekali, 30, who has lived on Kos for several years, slept in an olive grove with relatives while his five-year-old son and 16-year-old nephew slept in the family car.
“There were cracks in the house (from the earthquake) so we went straight out,” he said. “We were afraid to stay indoors, so the whole family slept outside.”
Dozens of aftershocks have shaken the island, further rattling residents and tourists.
John Grant, a 60-year-old tourist from Britain, said he felt safer sleeping outside.
“I think coming from somewhere that doesn’t have earthquakes, you don’t understand,” he said from his makeshift bed on a lounger.
“So to me it was very frightening being in the building. But being outside, I know I’m safe.”
About 350 of the injuries occurred in Turkey, in Bodrum and other beach resorts, as people fled buildings and the sea swell flung cars off the road and pushed boats ashore.
Seismologists said the shallow depth of the undersea quake was to blame for the damage.
In Kos, the quake damaged the island’s main port, so ferries were being diverted to the smaller port of Befalls.
Serif Damadoglou Soukri, the imam of Kos, said the greatest damage was sustained by the 17th century Defternatar Ibrahim Pasa mosque, whose minaret collapsed completely.
Ancient columns also toppled in the southern part of the 2nd century agora in the main town.
Greek Orthodox Priest Vassilis Hlampanis said one of the damaged churches was repairable.
“The greatest damage was sustained mainly in part of the sanctuary, in the middle part which fell, but there are also other sections around the external brickwork and certainly also internally,” he said.
Kos Mayor Giorgos Kyritsis said the biggest infrastructure problem was damage to the main port. Coast guard divers were inspecting the jetty.
“Life on the island is returning to normal,” he said. “The infrastructure problems are being repaired.”
The mayor said Kos had not seen many tourist booking cancellations as a result of the quake.
“(Visitors) are touring the island with their tour guides. We don’t have a big problem.
“The ferry connection has been restored with the port of Kefalos and we are waiting as soon as possible to repair the damage at the port,” he said.
Gift shop owner Giannis Manoutkos said life had returned to normal.
“Everything is normal now. The situation was bad for two days … we are coming to a normal life again,” he said.