Kos earthquake: British holidaymakers describe 'scariest night'

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Damage caused after an earthquake struck the Greek island of Kos, 21 July 2017Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The quake damaged a number of older buildings on the island of Kos

British holidaymakers have described the "terrifying moment" a 6.7 earthquake hit the Greek island of Kos, killing two people.

More than 100 people were injured at the popular tourist destination and in the nearby Turkish resort of Bodrum.

Travel company Thomson and First Choice said a "handful" of their UK customers suffered minor injuries.

Flights have been disrupted and tourists should take advice from tour operators, the Foreign Office said.

The earthquake struck at 01:31 on Friday (22:31 BST Thursday) north-east of Kos, near the Turkish coast.

Kos officials say there are 200,000 holidaymakers on the island at the moment and at least 10,000 of those are British.

'Not the honeymoon we expected'

Fran and Gavin Shore are staying at the Aqua Blu hotel on Kos, after they married on Sunday.

"We were woken up by the earthquake - the room was violently shaking from side to side," she said.

"We made our way outside.

"The hotel took about 15 minutes to get someone to come and talk to us. They were very good, very reassuring.

"Eventually we were told we could go back inside.

"There were a lot of smashed things in reception but no structural damage. Everybody was sleeping outside."

"It's not quite the honeymoon we expected," Mrs Shore added.

The couple have been told a structural engineer would be at the hotel on Friday.

"We were told we could go home if we wanted to. We're thinking about staying - it feels like it's safe. We don't fancy the bedlam of the airport."

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Tourists gather outside Kos Island International Airport on Friday morning

Flights in and out of Kos were cancelled on Friday morning, leading to a number of delays.

But Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said the airport was operational and the roads were "in good shape".

The port of Kos remains inaccessible, with local ferry traffic being rerouted to the neighbouring island of Kalymnos.

Thomas Cook said the holiday company's customers in Kos were evacuated from hotels "as a precaution" to allow a damage assessment, but most have returned.

"While a minimal number of properties do not currently have mains water supply and are experiencing intermittent power problems, utilities should be back to normal later today," it said.

A spokesman said there were no disruptions to flights in or out of Kos or cancellations.

Thomson and First Choice said flights scheduled for Saturday were due to operate as normal.

Olympic Holidays said all of its guests and staff were safe and the hotels and apartments used by the company were operating normally.

Customers due to travel to Kos should travel to their departure airports and check in as normal, it said.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Damage is seen at a port following the quake in the early hours of Friday morning

Helen Thomas was also on her honeymoon when the quake hit her hotel in Kos.

"It was a bit of a shock," Ms Thomas said. "It was terrifying."

The newlywed, from Dublin, was staying at Hotel Oceanis and said she spent hours outside following the tremors.

"It's the uncertainty and the aftershock that gets to us. There are cracks in the wall in our hotel so we don't know how safe it is.

"There's plaster all over the floors. There are arches at funny angles," she added.

Image source, Ciaran McMahon
Image caption,
The Hotel Oceanis has been badly damaged

Victoria Dixon is on Kos with her family and said the earthquake's aftershocks made the experience worse.

"The complete sense of fear was untrue - I actually thought that was it, I really did," she said.

"So when it stopped, we gathered our thoughts and then thought 'right we need to go outside'.

"We were greeted with no-one. We kind of found our information from Twitter."

Ms Dixon said the aftershocks went on until the morning.

"You were trying to get over it but then the tremors kept coming," she added.

Image source, Keith Prested
Image caption,
Holidaymakers slept outside at the Labranda Marine Aquapark Resort on Kos
Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Fallen bottles are seen in a liquor store

Others feared they were under attack.

Holidaymaker Emma Dougan, 18, from Yateley, in Hampshire, said: "It was getting really, really loud and we thought we were being attacked, but then everything started moving and bits of the wall started falling off, and like our beds were shaking.

"We all stood up and it started again. So we ran over to the door frame to hide under it and it stopped.

"We heard everyone screaming in the hotel."

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Georgie Jamieson, from London, said it was one of the "scariest nights".

The university student, who is on a family holiday in Kardamaina, a small town 4.3 miles (7km) from Kos, was in bed in her hotel when the first tremor struck.

"It felt like the ground was going to give way," she said.

Image source, Georgie Jamieson
Image caption,
Georgie Jamieson and her family hours before the quake struck

"My first thought was to wake up my sister.

"I ran to the door, looked out the window - I was worried it was an attack.

"We ran outside in our pyjamas. We couldn't really see any damage. The hotel is sturdy."

She said all excursions from the hotel on Friday had been cancelled and her family had been advised to stay where they were.