Awaited Istanbul earthquake may destroy 600,000 building units: Minister

Awaited Istanbul earthquake may destroy 600,000 building units: Minister

KONYA – Doğan News Agency
Awaited Istanbul earthquake may destroy 600,000 building units: Minister Some 600,000 independent building units in Istanbul are facing the risk of collapse in the event of a strong earthquake expected to rattle the country’s largest city, Environment and Urbanization Minister Mehmet Özhaseki said on Sept. 10. 

“Now there is the reality of a quake expected to happen in Istanbul that scares us all. All scientists are saying this. As our academics have been saying that this earthquake will occur most probably in 15 years, should we now be watching this? Some 600,000 independent units seem at risk in Istanbul,” Özhaseki said in the Central Anatolian province of Konya at an urban transformation project event. 

He said many municipalities across Turkey had been carrying out wrong works in urban renewal projects, while describing buildings in Western countries as much more “solid” in comparison to those in Turkey. 

In a lot of places undergoing urban transformation, according to Özhaseki, many mayors “unfortunately” had been permissive to contractors demolishing buildings and then allowing them to get reconstructed in an “ugly way.”

The minister also touched on the issue of a strong earthquake Istanbul is awaiting, which scientists say could happen in the next 15 to 30 years. He added that officials should take precautions against the quake, citing it as the reason why the ministry was “in an endeavor.” 

“This is why we are working. We have taken all the precautions, taking into account all the realities; we have prepared the infrastructure, we are aware of the problems. We have made presentations to our president and prime minister. We have explained [to them] the difficulties we might face regarding the issue of urban transformation. We have told them that we need to declare this mobilization as we need to do our best on the solution of this issue and accordingly declare mobilization,” the minister said. 

An earthquake with a magnitude stronger than 7 is expected to rattle Turkey’s Marmara region in the near future, Boğaziçi University’s Kandilli Observatory head Haluk Özener had stated on Aug. 17. 

“All scientists accept that there will be an earthquake with a magnitude stronger than 7 around the Marmara region but we cannot give a date for it. It may be a one-piece fracture or a two or three-piece fracture, but it does not change the fact that there will be an earthquake in Marmara,” he said at a press conference marking the 18th anniversary of the 1999 deadly earthquake in which around 18,000 people were killed within seconds in northwestern Turkey.