One third of all buildings in Istanbul are not earthquakeproof, the megacity’s Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu said.
Speaking at a ceremony on the 22nd anniversary of the devastating August 17 tremor in the Sea of Marmara, İmamoğlu said the most important reality for the city was a possible earthquake in Istanbul, Diken news website reported on Tuesday.
Although the earthquake was mainly felt in the neighbouring Kocaeli province, several districts in Istanbul also suffered heavy losses as many buildings collapsed due to bad construction practices. At the time, the city had a population of approximately 10 million.
Today, that number has almost doubled, İmamoğlu said. “Therefore, Istanbul should now be much more concerned,” he added.
Some 200,000 buildings are likely to suffer moderate to severe damage in the expected Istanbul earthquake, the municipality’s deputy secretary general Mahir Polat said in a February meeting. In this scenario, three million residents are to be affected.
“Based on the building detection activities we have been carrying out for 1.5 years, we see that one out of every three buildings in Istanbul is unfortunately not resistant to earthquakes,” İmamoğlu said at the ceremony.
The mayor maintained that citizens and stakeholder institutions should face the problem.
“If our citizens prioritise the monetary side of the issue rather than safety, and if we are unable to manage the process with citizens in a transparent manner, we still have a problem.”
Turkey is prone to earthquakes and has a disastrous earthquake record as many of its cities are built on active faultlines. In the 1999 Marmara earthquake, official reports said about 18,000 people lost their lives, and more than 25,000 were injured.
The North Marmara faultline is overdue for an earthquake, and the so-called Istanbul Earthquake may have an intensity of as high as 7.6 on the Richter scale, geologist Dr Naci Görür told Cumhuriyet newspaper.