Earthquake News

Residents of Istanbul Fear an Unthinkable Quake: Is the City Prepared?

Turkey has been dealing with the aftermath of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck its southeast region for more than five weeks. Meanwhile, concerns are mounting in Istanbul, the country's most populous city, about the possibility of another devastating earthquake.

According to Professor Celal Sengor, a prominent geoscientist in Turkey, a major earthquake in Istanbul is highly probable within the next twenty years. Istanbul, with a population of 16 million people, is located close to two key fault lines - the North Anatolian and the East Anatolian - making it vulnerable to earthquakes.

The North Anatolian fault, which passes through the Sea of Marmara within 20 kilometers of Istanbul, has caused several catastrophic earthquakes in the past, including a 7.6 magnitude quake that killed more than 17,000 people in 1999 in the nearby city of Izmit.

Experts predict that another earthquake along the North Anatolian fault could be between 7.2 and 7.8 in magnitude and have devastating consequences for Turkey's commercial and industrial hub. Although it's impossible to predict the exact timing of such an earthquake, the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute estimate that it could cause more than 14,000 deaths if it occurs at night.

To prepare for a potential earthquake, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu has launched a disaster preparedness plan, which includes allocating more funds for disaster preparedness programs, establishing new emergency points, and prioritizing the rapid scanning system to evaluate the safety of buildings. The municipality has been providing free building evaluations for properties built before the year 2000 and reports that 50% of the 29,000 buildings inspected so far are at high risk of collapse.

However, there is still concern about Istanbul's gecekondu communities, which are built quickly without proper permissions and often do not adhere to official building codes. Mayor Imamoglu is calling for an end to construction zoning amnesties, which have allowed buildings constructed without planning permission to be granted amnesty by the government since the mid-1980s.

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