A recent statement by Prof. Dr. Marco Bohnhoff, a researcher at the German Research Centre for Geosciences, has revealed that the expected earthquake in Istanbul is even more dangerous than previously thought. According to the most recent data gathered, the next big quake will be no less than 7 on the Richter Scale. The head of Bosphorus Observatory, Dogan Kalafat, has stated that there is a 50% chance that the earthquake could happen in the next 7 years, and a higher than 90% chance that it will happen by 2070. With the likelihood of this devastating event happening, one must wonder how prepared this metropolitan city really is.
SO, IS ISTANBUL PREPARED FOR A BIG EARTHQUAKE?
Sadly, the answer is: not at all prepared. While there have been efforts to rebuild or reinforce risky structures, the city is so vast that it would take several centuries to adequately complete all of the necessary steps to prepare. According to Mr. Kalafat, at least 5,000 buildings are expected to collapse within seconds, with tens of thousands of other buildings either partially or fully damaged. With nearly 1 million buildings in the city, these numbers might even be optimistic.
Experts have warned that in a major earthquake, 60-80% of buildings in Istanbul would receive some sort of damage, with 20-40% being very badly damaged. Almost all studies estimate that the loss of life would be staggering, with more than 45,000 lives lost in the 1999 earthquake in a rural area near Istanbul. It has been 24 years since then, and Turkey was expected to be much more prepared than it currently is.
There are areas of Istanbul that are declared more vulnerable than others, such as Zeytinburnu, a fast-growing suburb to the west of the city, built on soft soil near the Marmara Sea. Seyda Sever, who works for a disaster awareness campaign group, spends a lot of time in Zeytinburnu, trying to help its inhabitants prepare themselves for a quake. With the inevitable earthquake looming, it is imperative that Istanbul’s residents and authorities take the necessary steps to minimize the loss of life and property.
2023 EARTHQUAKES IN SOUTH-EASTERN TURKEY AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS
The devastating earthquake that struck southeastern Turkey in February 2023, with a possible death toll of a hundred thousand people, has brought renewed attention to the looming threat of a potentially catastrophic earthquake in Istanbul. Experts have warned for years that the city is at high risk for a major earthquake due to its location on the North Anatolian Fault, and that the consequences could be catastrophic.
With the recent tragedy in southeastern Turkey, the urgency of the situation has only grown, as it has become clear that the city is not adequately prepared for a disaster of this scale. The potential loss of a million lives underscores the need for immediate action to bolster the city’s infrastructure and emergency response capabilities, as well as to raise awareness and preparedness among the population.