20 Years After Deadly Quake, Istanbul Ill-prepared For 'Big One'

20 years after deadly quake, Istanbul ill-prepared for 'Big One'

Twenty years after a devastating earthquake ravaged the northwest of Turkey, Istanbulites live with the knowledge that another "Big One" is unavoidable, and that their city of 16 million is not prepared

Istanbul, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 15th Aug, 2019 ) :Twenty years after a devastating earthquake ravaged the northwest of Turkey, Istanbulites live with the knowledge that another "Big One" is unavoidable, and that their city of 16 million is not prepared.

On Saturday, Turkey will mark the anniversary of the 7.4-magnitude quake that hit Izmit -- around 100 kilometres east of Istanbul -- on August 17, 1999, killing at least 17,400 people, including 1,000 within the economic capital of the country.

The question for seismologists is not if another earthquake will hit Istanbul, which lies along the volatile North Anatolian tectonic plate. The only question is when.

Sukru Ersoy, a specialist at the city's Yildiz Technical University, estimates it could come within the next decade.

"In the worst case, the quake could reach a magnitude of 7.

7," he told AFP. "Is Istanbul ready for that? Sadly not." According to him, such a quake would destroy thousands of buildings, leaving a "terrifying" number of dead and paralysing Turkey's economic and tourist hub.

The former capital of the Ottoman empire has suffered many earthquakes through its long history. In 1509, the city was shaken so badly that the Ottoman authorities referred to the incident as "the little apocalypse".

Since then, a rapid-response unit -- the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority -- has been created, quake-proof hospitals have been built, and systems to cut gas lines installed.

But experts say the main problem is that Istanbul has tens of thousands of poorly-built buildings, thrown up during the construction boom of recent decades with little regulatory oversight.

Your Thoughts and Comments