Friday, February 17, 2023

Scientists Warn Turkish Quakes Could be ‘Rehearsal’ for Devastating Earthquake in Istanbul

Experts and public figures are urging Istanbul to prepare for a potentially catastrophic earthquake following this month's disaster in southern Turkey that claimed tens of thousands of lives.

In an op-ed published in Hurriyet on Friday, they argue that the recent quakes are a "rehearsal" for what could happen next. Turkish author Nedim Sener emphasized the need for unity in improving the seismic resilience of the city, warning that "when the next Istanbul earthquake happens, the damage 'will swallow everyone'."

He cited a risk assessment by Bogazici University’s quake research lab, which counted how many buildings would be impacted by an earthquake of 7.5+ magnitude in Türkiye’s most populous and economically vital hub. With almost 13,500 structures expected to be heavily damaged, and hundreds of thousands of others affected to a smaller degree, the loss of life would be greater than what the country has just experienced, Sener predicted.

Some Turkish officials, including Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, have voiced similar concerns. The head of the city administration said 90,000 structures were at risk of total collapse in case of a major earthquake, citing a fresh survey by his municipality.

Speaking in a TV interview this week, Imamoglu criticized the central government for issuing an amnesty to some 317,000 buildings which failed to meet earthquake resilience codes. It meant that the owners were allowed to pay a fine rather than demolish their properties.

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