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Ex-MLA holidaying in Turkey tells of panic and fear as earthquake struck

By Donna Deeney

Former MLA Pat Ramsey has described how he and his family fled their holiday apartment after the furniture shook from the effects of the earthquake that struck seven miles from where they are staying in Turkey.

Two men, a 22-year-old from Sweden and a 39-year-old Turk, died on the Greek island of Kos, while around 200 others were injured in the quake, which caused cracks to walls and flooding in some buildings in the Turkish resort of Bodrum.

The pair died when the roof of a popular bar collapsed, police said.

Greek authorities said the 12 people seriously injured included tourists from Turkey, Sweden and Norway.

Four were taken to Crete for treatment and three to Athens.

Tourists had to flee their hotel rooms when the tremor - said to have been up to a magnitude of 6.7 - struck and was followed by aftershocks throughout the night.

Turkey's health minister said 358 were hurt in Bodrum, but none seriously.

There have been no reports of any injuries to Irish or British holidaymakers, but some tourists spoke of their horror after experiencing the earthquake.

It struck at 1.31am yesterday (10.31pm UK time on Thursday).

The tremors could be felt in Altinkum, where retired SDLP MLA Mr Ramsey is staying.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he said he intended remaining on holiday but was nervous about the very real possibility of more tremors.

He said: "Kos is the nearest island to Altinkum, so it is very close to us, as is Bodrum Airport.

"I have a ground floor apartment here, but the higher apartments were swaying.

"Our own lights were swinging and the fridge freezer was rattling, so it was quite a frighting experience.

"We were told to leave the apartments in case there was a second tremor, so we were outside until the early hours of the morning. A lot of the Turks were pulling sofas and chairs out to lie on in the street, because they were too afraid to go back inside."

He said local boat trips had been cancelled yesterday as people waited to see if there were further tremors.

"This is the period when there could be more tremors, so even the beaches are very, very quiet and people are nervous," Mr Ramsey added

"The uncertainly and fear of a second quake is the main worry here now, but thankfully there doesn't seem to have been any structural damage, although I have not gone too far outside where we are staying to see what it is like in other places.

"The lack of information is a bit of an issue, the only information we are getting is from either Sky News or the BBC World Service.

"We are hoping for some kind of a report from the government in terms of the extent of the earthquake and is there a probability of another one.

"We will stay as close to base as we can and definitely stay away from the sea, which is where I love to go when I am here. I love an early morning swim in the sea, but in the meantime I will stay clear of it.

"We are going to go into the Irish Embassy to see what they are saying, but we don't have any plans to leave."

Data from Turkey's disaster and emergency management authority, AFAD, showed that more than 40 aftershocks were felt in the country and Greece in the aftermath of the quake, some up to magnitude 4.6.

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