On March 8, 2023, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck the Marmara region of Turkey, including Istanbul, the country’s largest city. While no deaths were reported, the earthquake has left many Istanbul residents worried about the safety of their homes and buildings. The earthquake was followed by several aftershocks, adding to the anxiety of local residents. Istanbul, located in a seismically active region, has a history of devastating earthquakes, including a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in 1999 that killed over 17,000 people. The recent earthquake serves as a reminder of the need for preparedness and mitigation measures to ensure the safety of Istanbul’s residents.
After failing a recent seismic safety test, one of the citizens of Mesut Muttaliboglu must leave his Istanbul building.
He can squeeze a car key into the gaping hole in Mesut Muttaliboglu’s bedroom wall due to its size.
A sizable piece of plaster flies off the wall and crashes on the ground when he flips it sideways.
He and his family are leaving the apartment they have occupied for the past 15 years because of it. Following a failed test for seismic safety, the entire structure has been declared unsafe. A tremor would likely bring the entire block tumbling to the ground, thus that possibility is very high.
Fear is spreading throughout Istanbul.
Istanbul’s Urgent Need for Earthquake Preparedness
Residents are concerned about the lack of action taken by authorities to ensure building safety, with many requesting building safety inspections. However, the waitlist for inspections has increased to several months, leaving many feeling helpless. Some residents have taken matters into their own hands and have started inspecting their buildings themselves or hiring private engineers to do so.
In response to the earthquakes, the mayor of Istanbul has pledged to prepare temporary shelters that can hold up to 4.5 million people in the event of an earthquake. However, many residents worry that this may not be sufficient, and that more needs to be done to ensure the safety of the city’s residents.
The creation of an early warning system using fiber-optic technology has been proposed, which could give residents time to evacuate before an earthquake hits. However, it remains difficult to predict where people would travel to find refuge in such a large city.
Overall, the recent earthquakes have highlighted the urgent need for preparedness measures and building safety inspections in Istanbul to ensure the safety of its residents.
Turkey’s largest metropolis is now more urgent as a result of the two strong earthquakes in the country’s south that lost approximately 50,000 lives. On the North Anatolian fault line and home to 15 million people, it is expected to see a significant earthquake before 2030, according to scientists.
It is estimated that 70% of the city’s structures were constructed before to regulatory amendments enforcing tougher construction standards in 1999, making them potentially dangerous. An earthquake in this region might result in up to 90,000 fatalities, according to a research that was just published three months ago. The race to prepare the city has begun.
We all woke up screaming at 4:17 a.m. when a relative called. Mesut’s eyes well up with tears, and he turns away to gather himself. “It’s an awful predicament. Due to snow, we were unable to visit Kahramanmaras for three days, and it was extremely difficult to even access the rubble. I am unable to explain it. I pray that God spares no one else from going through this.”
The authorities had disconnected the water and electricity to Mesut’s apartment before he left for Istanbul. “I asked them again to come back just so we could relocate. I was given two more days.”
“The municipality had issued a formal warning to us about it, but the neighbours’ opposition prevented a resolution. We were prepared to evacuate since we knew our utilities would be turned off, but when the earthquake struck, everything fell into disarray.”
Since the southern earthquakes, the Istanbul municipality has received more than 100,000 fresh requests for building safety inspections. The waitlist for a single injection has increased to three months, then four, and is still growing.
Further training for rescue teams will be provided, and Ekrem Imamoglu, the mayor of the city, has pledged to prepare temporary shelters that can hold up to 4.5 million people in the event of an earthquake. But many worry that it isn’t sufficient enough.
Yasemin Suleymanoglu (Mother and Istanbul resident)
The creation of a 50km (31 miles) long fiber-optic based early warning system is the following step. Even if they were aware that an earthquake was imminent, it is difficult to predict where people would travel to find refuge in such a large city.
A significant portion of Istanbul’s populace is now focused on these issues as images of the destruction in the south continue to fill Turkish TV screens. The fact that counts is that significant presidential and parliamentary elections will take place in just two months.