Seismologists Warn: Fear of Istanbul’s Great Earthquake

Status: 02/26/2023 02:14 am

An earthquake in southeastern Turkey is causing fear in Istanbul. Experts strongly believe that the metropolis on the Bosphorus, home to millions of people, will also face a major earthquake in the next few years.

By Markus Rosch, ARD-Studio Istanbul

A geological fault zone runs at the bottom of the Sea of ​​Marmara, 15 kilometers from Istanbul. Here the Anatolian plate is sliding sideways along the Eurasian tectonic plate – about 25 millimeters each year.

The Earth’s plates push against each other, get stuck, and repeatedly release energy. Due to this, there is a tense situation in front of Istanbul. The respected geographer Selal Senghor cautions people with the words, “Get away from the center.”

Mayor warns of “big risk”.

The mayor also says that it is known that Istanbul is in great danger. With these harsh words, Ekrem Imamoglu warns about the consequences of a possible earthquake. About 90,000 buildings in the metropolis are at risk because building norms are often not adhered to.

The government’s amnesty regulation has legalized many illegally constructed houses. “Inadequate materials, illegal construction projects, illegal housing, unauthorized changes to buildings, inadequate controls – these are all weaknesses of the administration,” says Imamoglu. The mayor of the opposition CHP party on the campaign trail announces improvements.

Buildings are inspected

This is one of the reasons why the condition of many buildings in Istanbul is being studied in a large-scale campaign. For example, in the European region, particularly in the earthquake-prone Bakirkoy district. Next to the new buildings are many old buildings.

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A team from the city administration inspects a residence with drills and measuring devices. The condition and composition of the concrete, but also the steel girders are examined. Then there is a post on how to proceed. The only thing that isn’t clear is how it’s tied up — and who will pay for the changes.

A tenant reports that everyone here is very nervous. But moving away is not an option because it is too expensive and you don’t know where to go, says Aykut Ireval. Landlords and construction companies in particular are now realizing the bigger deal and have been able to charge tenants significantly more, he says.

The need for controls is high

What’s striking: The rush to city controls is overwhelming. An old woman stands in front of her cracked house and laments that her house is 50 years old and the owner has so far invested little in the building. The registration list for restrictions is also long. Getting an appointment is difficult.

Another, more expensive option not available to many: Private companies can also inspect buildings. But it costs a lot of money. The results are then confidential, meaning each owner can deal with them as they wish.

Protected areas often put themselves at risk

Each district in Istanbul has its own safety zones that people must come to in case of an earthquake. The only problem is that many of these protected areas are very small or in dangerous areas like the Bosphorus.

Sihangir, a densely built-up area, requires people to fit in a garage. Aerial photographs show that the area at risk of collapse may be too small for the tens of thousands of people on site in an emergency. Similar problems exist in other parts of the city.

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Rush into gear in an emergency

Everything that is needed in extreme cases is very popular right now. Yunus Enre Khan runs an outdoor shop. He says that especially young people are coming to him now. Whistles, headlamps and especially sleeping bags are bought.

and tents. “Most families want a large tent for at least four people. But some also buy larger tents that can accommodate eight people or stuff,” says Kane. However, many items are already sold out.

Istanbul has a contingency plan in case of an earthquake. But many don’t believe the plan will be enough. After all, what are the best plans if access routes are blocked by destroyed buildings and there are no adequate security and collection areas.

That’s why many Istanbulites take earthquake prevention into their own hands: Earthquake containers are placed in the garden if there is one. Food and water are stored. And many people have an earthquake backpack with helmets, first aid and clothing in their homes.

Earthquake safety: during a building survey in Istanbul

Benjamin Weber, ART Istanbul, February 24, 2023 at 3:44 pm

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