Locals in the Marmara provinces of Kocaeli, Istanbul, Yalova and Sakarya gathered for commemoration ceremonies to mark the 23rd year of the 7.4-magnitude earthquake with its epicenter in Kocaeli’s Gölcük district, which lasted for about 45 seconds and killed over 17,000 people.
In Gölcük, crowds gathered early on Aug. 17 on the Kavaklı coastline and observed a moment of silence at 3:02 a.m., when the massive tremor caught many people in their sleep, overall affecting around 16 million people at various levels.
“Forty-five seconds is a very short time in human life. However, for us, Gölcük residents, it is an unforgettable time when we lost our relatives and loved ones,” said Ali Yıldırım Sezer, the district’s mayor.
A similar event was held at the Earthquake Monument in Avcılar, the district where the most deaths were recorded in Istanbul.
Following a moment of silence observed by those who attended the event to mark the quake’s anniversary at 3:02 a.m., Mayor Turan Hançerli stated that they are trying to renovate the old buildings with the works they started in the district.
In the northwestern province of Yalova, where the disaster killed over 2,500 people, locals gathered at 3:02 a.m. for a “silent march” to mark the quake’s anniversary and left carnations at the Earthquake Monument, which was built on the wreck of a building that collapsed during the earthquake.
As Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, city local administrators and residents attended the ceremony organized by the Sakarya Municipality, and prayers were made for those who lost their lives in the earthquake.
Speaking in the city square, Soylu said, “I wish Allah’s mercy on those who lost their lives in the earthquake. We are making all our preparations for the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that is expected to occur in Istanbul, as it’s our greatest responsibility to take precautions.”
Meanwhile, an academic said Istanbul needs to be prepared for another expected huger tremor in the Marmara region.
Reiterating that it has been scientifically determined that the probability of an earthquake expected in Marmara within 30 years from 1999 is 64 percent, professor Naci Görür, a prominent earthquake expert, said, “Twenty-three years have passed, so we have come to the last phase.”
“According to our studies, in the event of this earthquake, it will be of magnitude 7.2 minimum and 7.6 maximum, while the parts of Istanbul close to the Marmara coast will be exposed to an earthquake of at least magnitude 9,” the expert said, adding some 320,000 people are directly face-to-face with death.
The quake destroyed 96,808 dwellings and 15,944 workplaces, especially in the provinces of Kocaeli, Istanbul, Yalova, Sakarya, Bolu and Düzce, and gravely affected 231,364 dwellings and 32,569 workplaces.
Hurriyet Daily News