Turkey will mark victims of quake on 16th anniversary

Turkey will mark victims of quake on 16th anniversary

Turkey will mark victims of quake on 16th anniversary

DHA photo

The victims of an earthquake which shook the country 16 years ago will be commemorated in ceremonies across the country, particularly focused on the northwestern province of Kocaeli, where many people were killed under the wreckage of their houses. 

Turkey was shaken by a 7.5-magnitude earthquake in the early hours of Aug. 17, 1999, with the epicenter in the Gölcük district of Kocaeli. One of Turkey’s deadliest natural disasters in recent history, the earthquake led to the deaths of around 18,000 people, while almost 50,000 others were injured. 

A ceremony was set to take place late Aug. 16 on the Kavaklı coastline of Gölcük, during which families throw flowers into the sea in memory of their lost ones every year. Another ceremony will take place early Aug. 17, at the exact moment of the quake. The number of victims was high since many people were sleeping in their houses when the quake struck, while the majority of the buildings in the region were not resistant to even low magnitude earthquakes. 

Even though 16 years have passed since the Gölcük earthquake, serious problems also remain in consolidating old buildings and inspecting the construction of new ones, according to experts.

The worst-hit Istanbul district was Avcılar, which was built on infill and sits on the fault line extending across the Marmara Sea. Meanwhile, the head of the Istanbul branch of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) recently said Istanbul is no better prepared for an earthquake than it was back in 1999. “There are no places left in Istanbul to gather and put up a [natural emergency] tent. Frankly speaking, Turkey is no more ready for an earthquake than it was in 1999,” TMMOB Istanbul branch head Cemal Gökçe said on Aug. 13, during a press conference to mark the 16th anniversary of the huge 1999 earthquake.