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Earthquake warning for Turkey
Engineers say 300,000 buildings at risk of collapse causing mass deaths in 'likely' quake.
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2010 12:02 GMT
 An 8.8 earthquake in Chile last week killed at least 800 people and left many more homeless [AFP]

A report released by the Turkish chamber of civil engineers has said that up to 150,000 people could be killed, and 300,000 buildings destroyed in an earthquake predicted to hit the city of Istanbul in the next 30 years.

The report, which was sent to parliament on Monday, reveals over half of construction projects approved by engineers of inspection companies are not earthquake proof.

The city boundary lies just 20 kilometres from a major fault line, leaving the sprawling metropolis of Istanbul at high risk of a major earthquake.

The results came after Imo, the engineering body that produced the report, inspected nine per cent of the 1,031 projects supposedly made earthquake-proof by inspection companies in 2008.

Cemal Gökçe, chairman of the Istanbul Imo branch, said inspection certificates can be authorised by any engineer with an engineering diploma, regardless of their area of expertise.

Inadequate inspections

"Too often inspections are carried out generically without an in-depth analysis by experts of the characteristics, complexity and size of the building," he said.

"Therefore, buildings are marked as earthquake-proof when in fact they are not."

According to the report, 70,000 to 150,000 people could lose their lives and a further 160,000 to 200,000 could be injured.

Moreover, 400,000 families are expected to need shelter in the aftermath of the predicted quake, the report said.

Imo warned Turkey's parliament that hospital buildings need to be strengthened in Istanbul, saying inspections showed 86 per cent of hospitals in the city are susceptible to collapse.

Tugrul Tankut, former chairman of Turkey's earthquake council and a member of the chamber of civil engineers, told Al Jazeera that Istanbul was at high risk becuase it is not well prepared for the high magnitude earthquake expected to take place "within 30-50 years".

"About one quarter of the [country's] population live there," he said.

"Istanbul is sitting on a [time] bomb. The difference between the Chilean earthquake and the expected Istanbul quake lies in the fact that the epicentre of [the latter] is quite close to the town - about 10 kms.

"In the case of Chilean quake [which left 800 dead], it was about 120 kms away from the highly affected area of Concepcion.

"We havent been taking the matter very seriously. Construction supervision is extremely important. Having a seismic code is not enough, implementation is necessary."

Multiple earthquakes

On March 2 the town of Simav, connected to the Anatolian province of Kütahya, was shaken by six consecutive earthquakes ranging from 2.9 to 4.4 on the richtor scale.

No injuries or fatalities were reported.

According to the earthquake observation and research institute in Bosphorus University, the first earthquake took place at 2:36 am, recording a 3.2 on the richter scale.

The second followed at 2:43 am recording a 4.4 on the richter scale, and a further four tremors were reported at 2:37, 2:59, 3:16 and 4:56, ranging between 2.9 and 4.2 on the scale.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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