Sunday, February 14, 2010ISTANBUL - Milliyet
A strong earthquake could kill up to 32,000 people if it strikes Istanbul, according to a quake scenario published by the Prime Ministry’s Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate.
Like many areas of Turkey, Istanbul lies close to major fault lines and has been previously hit by fatal quakes several times.
Another 81,828 people could be badly injured and more than a million could be left homeless in the event of a quake measuring at least 7 on the Richter scale with an epicenter in the Marmara Sea, according to the scenario, which was published last week.
The scenario was drafted by Professor Bülent Özmen, an academic from Gazi University in Ankara, and submitted to the Parliamentary Earthquake Research Committee by Murat Nurlu, the head of the Earthquake Directorate.
According to the scenario, 96 percent of Turkey faces a risk of quakes of varying strengths and 66 percent of the country lies on active fault lines.
The report stressed that the seismic hazard for regions where 70 percent of the country’s population lives and 75 percent of the areas hosting huge industry zones could be “tremendously” high.
According to the report, 223 devastating quakes hit Turkey between the years 1900 and 2009, killing a total of 86,000 people and either leveling or badly damaging 549,000 buildings.
The latest scenario envisions an earthquake with its epicenter in the Marmara Sea along the North Anatolian Fault Line, a major active geologic fault in northern Anatolia that runs along the tectonic boundary between the Anatolian and Eurasian plates. A strong quake measuring over 7 on the Richter scale is expected to hit Istanbul in this region.
The report did not provide a forecast time for an earthquake. Experts have previously said there is a 50 percent chance of a quake with a magnitude of at least 7 hitting the city within the next 30 years.
According to a report submitted by the Japan International Agency, or JICA, to Istanbul’s provincial council, a strong quake could kill up to 90,000 people living in Istanbul, Turkey’s most populous city.
The survey, conducted by four Japanese and 10 Turkish scientists and a team of engineers, stated that material damage could be $40 billion if there were a 7.7-magnitude earthquake in the city.
The provincial council had envisioned a an earthquake master plan to cope with a critical quake scenario. The council assessed the strength of buildings and pulling them down or reinforcing them if necessary.
Some 18,000 people, 1,000 of them in Istanbul, were killed in a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in northwest Turkey in August 1999.