High tsunami waves could hit Istanbul shores: Expert

High tsunami waves could hit Istanbul shores: Expert

High tsunami waves could hit Istanbul shores: Expert

A major earthquake in the Marmara Sea could trigger a tsunami with sea waves as high as six meters hitting the coastlines of Istanbul, an academic has warned authorities.

“Earthquakes in the Marmara Sea with a magnitude of 7.4 or more have caused small or big tsunamis [in history]. Thus, we have been expecting a tsunami after the major Istanbul earthquake. It is not true to say that there wouldn’t be a tsunami because the Marmara is an inland sea,” said Professor Ahmet Cevdet Yalçıner, the chair of UNESCO’s intergovernmental coordination group for the tsunami early warning and mitigation system in the northeastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and connected seas (ICG/NEAMTWS).

“We have made experiments on this with Japan. A tsunami would not have a big impact. But there are landslide zones under the water off Istanbul’s district of Büyükçekmece and the port of Yenikapı. They create risks,” he told daily Hürriyet.

Referring to the recent 5.8 earthquake off the Silivri district which jolted the metropolis on Sept. 26, Yalçıner said: “A tsunami can occur with a landslide following a 6.5-magnitude earthquake. It can be a serious tsunami if the landslide is triggered by an earthquake. The sea level would rise three to six meters on average. The seawater would enter the stream beds … And it would cause turbulences and serious currents around the ports. It would damage the yachts and small fishing boats.”

The recent Silivri earthquake for many Istanbul locals triggered traumatic memories of the devastating 1999 Marmara earthquake – the worst seismic disaster in the country’s recent history.

The Aug. 17, 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.

Experts have been warning of another big earthquake in the Marmara region within 25-30 years.