Expected Istanbul earthquake could kill up to 30,000 people, expert warns
“Our scenario suggests that an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 on the Northern Anatolian Fault in the Marmara Sea could kill 26,000 to 30,000 people,” said Murat Nurlu, the head of the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority’s (AFAD) earthquake department.
Turkey is one of the most seismic areas in the world, with Istanbul sitting near a major fault line.
Speaking at a workshop jointly organized by AFAD and the Istanbul Municipality on Aug. 15, Nurlu said AFAD prepared an earthquake emergency plan for Istanbul.
“The key in disaster and crisis management is to be prepared for the worst. According to our scenario for Istanbul, in a possible earthquake 60,000 people will be injured seriously. Some 44,802 buildings will be damaged. Some 2.4 million people will be left without shelter,” Nurlu said.
He noted that these are the estimates only for Istanbul.
He also warned about a possible tsunami in the wake of the Istanbul earthquake.
“Public institutions, municipalities and AFAD; we are all preparing for the earthquake. We have planned a total of 150,000 temporary shelters,” Nurlu said.
On a related note, speaking at the same workshop, Professor Şükrü Ersoy, from Yıldız Technical University’s Natural Sciences Research Center, suggested that in the worst case scenario an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 may hit the region.
“There are a number of fault lines in Turkey that could trigger high magnitude tremors. However, given its large population, the number of buildings in the area, and the fact that it is the country’s financial center, the Marmara region is particularly under the spotlight,” Ersoy said.
“That is why the earthquake in the Marmara region should be regarded as a “national security issue,” he added.
Boğaziçi University’s Kandilli Observatory in Istanbul located more than 5,000 earthquakes in Turkey this year, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.
The observatory, which monitors the seismic activities via a network of 240 stations, locates some 10,000 earthquakes in Turkey each year.
In 2017, the corresponding figure was 34,000 that were due some 6,000 aftershocks following three earthquakes with a magnitude of more than 6.
A total of 10,503 earthquakes with a magnitude of 4 or above hit Turkey between 1900 and 2017.
The warnings from the experts came just days ahead of the 19th anniversary of the Aug. 17, 1999 Marmara earthquake, the worst seismic disaster in Turkey’s recent history.
The 1999 quake had a magnitude of 7.5 and hit the Marmara region, the most industrial and densely populated region of the country, killing 17,480 people.
Over 285,000 buildings were damaged and 600,000 people were left homeless after the 45-second quake, which left social and economic wounds that took years to heal.