Turkey’s president boasted that he let builders avoid earthquake codes

Erdospheric earthquakes in Izmir, Syria, the first year of reconstruction after the 1999 11-kilometre Izmit tragedy

In 1999, a magnitude-7.4 earthquake hit 11 kilometres southeast of Izmit, Turkey, killing more than 17,000 people and leaving more than 250,000 homeless. New building codes and a compulsory earthquake insurance system were introduced by the Turkish government after this tragedy. However, many of the buildings affected by this week’s quake were built before 2000, says Mustafa Erdik, a civil engineer at Boğaziçi University, Turkey.

“Events like this are, of course, absolutely devastating, but they remind us of the importance of scientific research and putting that research into practice through building codes and retrofitting [infrastructure], enforcing policy and things like sharing knowledge to establish best practices,” Lindsay Davis, the earthquake disaster assistance team manager at the U.S. Geological Survey, told NPR.

Most of Turkey sits on the Anatolian plate between two major faults: the North Anatolian Fault and the East Anatolian Fault. The tectonic plate that carries Arabia, including Syria, is moving northwards and colliding with the southern rim of Eurasia, which is squeezing Turkey out towards the west, says David Rothery, a geoscientist at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK. “Turkey is moving west about 2 centimetres per year along the East Anatolian Fault,” he adds. Half of the fault is lit up by earthquakes.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long spoken of the need to be ready for natural disasters. In the year after an earthquake hit Izmir and surrounding areas, Erdogan claimed that the government had been with the people from the very beginning.

According to a study done by Arzu Arslan Kelam and her colleagues in March of this year, the centre of Gaziantep would experience moderate-to-severe damage if there was a magnitude-6.5 earthquake. This is because most existing buildings are low-rise brick structures that are constructed very close to each other.

Things are worse in Syria, where more than 11 years of conflict have made building standards impossible to enforce. The earthquake struck Syria’s northwestern regions, with buildings collapsing in Aleppo and Idlib. Some war-damaged buildings in Syria have been rebuilt using low-quality materials. It might have been more easy for them to fall down than it was for the things built at greater expense. He says they have yet to find out.

Searching for Life Under the Rubble of September 11, 2001: The Case of Turkish Earthquake Taxes During the 1999 Istanbul quake

Even though experts say people can live for a week or more, the chances of finding more survivors were quickly fading, because of the cold. Rescuers were shifting to thermal cameras to help identify life amid the rubble, a sign that any remaining survivors could be too weak to call for help.

ISTANBUL — Rescue workers pressed their search Thursday across Turkey and Syria for survivors from this week’s massive earthquake and aftershocks as the window to find people alive began to close.

ISTANBUL — The response to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated Turkey last Monday has been criticized by the Turkish President, but videos from a few years back show him praising the destroyed housing projects.

Istanbul’s stock exchange closed until Feb. 15 after initial trading showed rapid declines, triggering a circuit breaker when declines reached 7%. The Turkish economy was already reeling from out-of-control inflation.

Critics like Ozel point out that national funds meant for disasters like this one were spent on highway construction projects managed by friends of the coalition government.

The earthquake tax was imposed after the 1999 earthquake in Turkey that killed more than 18,000 people.

This week’s earthquake is not just a “near-total incompetence on the part of the government” according to Ozel. He says that the government is making matters worse by making it nearly impossible for other organizations to help, as well as citizens themselves.

There are a lot of restrictions on how individual cities and aid organizations could operate in Turkey due to the centralization of the government. (Turkey’s embassies, meanwhile, along with an array of nongovernmental organizations and cultural associations, are collecting donations internationally.)

With an election expected by June, Ozel says Erdogan has already been weakened by out-of-control inflation in Turkey. “I would expect the government to actually be one of the victims under the rubble of this earthquake,” Ozel predicts.

An 18-year-old high school student has been helping out with the aid effort. Schools throughout Turkey have been ordered closed to mourn victims of the earthquake and so that people like Korkmaz can help out.

We managed to load 18 semitrucks and send them to the earthquake zone. He is loading a box underneath a banner with the image of a man hanging from the ceiling, saying that there is an urgent need for food. “However we can get it to them, it doesn’t matter. There are people there who need food.

When asked if Erdogan’s government has done enough to help the victims, Soleymez says, “They’ve done what they’re able to do. This isn’t a time to talk about politics, but about helping other people who need it.

In Islahiye, dozens of buildings across the city have collapsed. The Hac Ali ztrk mosque is west of a group of residential buildings in the city center.

He says many of the buildings that toppled over this month were left with their upper stories basically intact. Stores and other commercial properties used the ground floors that were destroyed.

The Narli Family in the Nurdagi Park, Gaziantep Province: “God is Great!” Rescue Searches in the 133-Month-April Tsunami

The town’s “Great Garden,” a normally green area with benches and shops, is now full of tents, which are likely to shelter survivors and emergency crews.

At least two large high-rise buildings, located just south of the park, have collapsed. Three more on the northern side of the park have also collapsed.

There are a lot of cars in the area. Like in other parts of the Nurdagi, some of the buildings that are still standing have a significant amounts of debris surrounding them.

Dramatic rescues were being broadcast on Turkish television, including the rescue of the Narli family in central Kahramanmaras 133 hours after the 7.8-magnitude temblor struck Monday. First, 12-year-old Nehir Naz Narli was saved, then both of her parents.

The family of five who were trapped in a debris field in the town of Nurdagi, in Gaziantep province, were rescued earlier in the day. Rescuers cheered and chanted, “God is Great!” The last family member was lifted to safety.

The death toll in Turkey raises the total number of killed in quake-stricken regions of Syria to 21,848, prompting a search for humanitarian aid

Turkish President Recep Tayypi Erdogan, on a tour of quake-stricken cities, raised the death toll in Turkey to 21,848, which pushed the total number of dead across the region, including government and rebel-held parts of Syria, to 25,401.

He said that almost no stone was left standing in some settlements near the fault line.

Melisa Ulku, a woman in her 20s, was extricated from the rubble in Elbistan in the 132th hour since the quake, after the rescue of another person at the same site in the same hour. The police told the people to not cheer or clap in order to avoid interfering with the other rescue efforts nearby. She was on the stretcher and covered in a thermal blanket. Rescuers were embracing. Some people shouted that the Almighty is great.

Just an hour earlier, a 3-year-old girl and her father were pulled from debris in the town of Islahiye, also in Gaziantep province, and soon after a 7-year-old girl was rescued in the province of Hatay.

The rescues brought shimmers of joy amid overwhelming devastation days after Monday’s 7.8-magnitude quake and a powerful aftershock hours later caused thousands of buildings to collapse, killing more than 25,000, injuring another 80,000 and leaving millions homeless.

Not everything ended well. The 13-year-old was extricated from the debris of the collapsed building in Hatay province early Saturday. She died before the medical teams could free her from the rubble, Hurriyet newspaper reported.

As aid continued to arrive, a team from the Indian army’s medical assistance team began treating patients in a temporary field hospital in Iskenderun, where a main hospital was demolished.

Within hours of Monday’s earthquake he was pulled from the rubble of his apartment building in Antakya, and he cried in pain. But after receiving basic first aid, he was released without getting proper treatment for his injuries.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2023/02/11/1156313344/turkey-syria-earthquake-death-toll-survivors

An Antakya cemetery for wounded quake victims: “I buried everything that I lost,” says Turkish President Bashar Assad

I buried everyone that I lost, then I came here. Canbulat said, counting his dead relatives: “My daughter is dead, my sibling died, my aunt and her daughter died, and the wife of her son” who was 8 ½ months pregnant.

A large makeshift graveyard was under construction on the outskirts of Antakya on Saturday. Backhoes and bulldozers dug pits in the field on the northeastern edge of the city as trucks and ambulances loaded with black body bags arrived continuously. The soldiers who directed traffic on the road warned drivers not to take pictures.

A worker with Turkey’sMinistry of Religious Affairs who was not willing to give his name, said that around 800 bodies were brought to the cemetery on the first day it was open. By midday on Saturday, he said, as many as 2,000 had been buried.

It’s a miracle if they survive, that’s what I think. Most of the people that come out now are dead, and they come here,” he said.

Many people have no shelter and the temperature remained below freezing. Turkish government has distributed millions of hot meals, tents, and blankets, but is not able to reach many people in need.

Syria’s 12-year civil war forced millions of people to flee the country and left them dependent on aid. The fighting sent millions more to seek refuge in Turkey.

President Bashar Assad and his wife have visited injured quake victims in a hospital in the coastal city of Latakia, a base of support for the Syrian leader.

The World Health Organization head, Tedros Adhanom, arrived in Syria on Saturday, bringing with him 35 tons of medical equipment, according to SANA. He said another plane carrying an additional 30 tons of medical equipment will arrive in the coming days.

When the 2004 April 11 earthquake in Maras, Turkey, struck by an earthquake is so deadly, it’s a Canyon-like chasm, not an invitation to death

“We solved the problem of 144,156 citizens of Maras with zoning amnesty,” Erdogan said, using his term for the construction amnesties handed out to allow contractors to ignore the safety codes that had been put on the books specifically to make apartment blocks, houses and office buildings more resistant to earthquakes.

Duvar cited a senior Istanbul city official, Bugra Gokce, who gave a breakdown of the tens of thousands of building amnesty certificates granted before the 2018 general election in 10 provinces struck by the earthquake. There were more than 40,000 certificates in the Gaziantep province.

The Turkish media reports that the construction projects could proceed even if the builders had to pay a fine.

And the country’s main association of engineers and architects weighed in with a scathing attack on the practice of amnesties for builders, saying, “Zoning amnesty is an invitation to death.”

A canyon- like chasm has emerged from the split olive grove which is in Turkey’s south-eastern Altnozu district. The level of the cleavage is over 120 feet deep.

Irfan Aksu, who lives in the neighborhood, told Turkish news agency Demioren News Agency that when the earthquake started last Monday it created “an incredible sound” where he lived.

He implored for experts to inspect the area for possible future damage. 7000 thousand people live in a town with 1000 houses, and he said it was not a small town. It would have happened in the middle of our town if it had been closer.

A 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck a region near the South Sandwich Islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean in 2004, but the remote location of that incident resulted in little damage.

The earthquake is so lethal due to a number of factors. The time of day is one of them. With the quake hitting early in the morning, many people were in their beds when it happened, and are now trapped under the rubble of their homes.

The people who are most likely to affect the rescue are your neighbors. Because they’re the ones right there, right when it happens,” Forrest Lanning told NPR. He’s an earthquake and volcano response liaison with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a structural engineer.

Spreading that awareness, and training people to respond when official rescuers aren’t able to do so, are among the measures emergency response experts say are essential to saving the most lives in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

Experts say the growing death tolls — more than 39,000 in Turkey and Syria — reflect how important search and rescue efforts are within the first 12 hours to two days.

The window of opportunity to save people under collapsing buildings will start to close quickly and by the time you’re done, it’s done.

Even if bystanders can’t save someone, they can still point out where people were located, according to the University at Buffalo’s Natalie Simpson.

“It takes a long time at each building, to have to listen and carefully remove pieces of the building debris to get to people,” Lanning said. And with the scene in Turkey “there’s thousands and thousands of these buildings,” he added.

It is more important due to the fact that teams from abroad take 24 to 48 hours to arrive. Generally, there are nowhere nearly enough local search and rescue teams on the ground to respond to each collapsed building.

Knowing the importance of quick, local aid, the Community Emergency Response Team was developed in the U.S. It’s a FEMA program that trains volunteers across all 50 states with basic disaster response skills.

It teaches people how to deal with earthquakes, how to get water in an emergency, and how to look out for one’s neighbors.

Miracles Happen When People Get Free from the Ruin of a Collapsing Building: Comment on Turkey’s Disaster-Induced Earthquake

There are factors, like types of injuries and how many search and rescue teams are on the scene, that contribute to how likely a trapped person is to survive. If a person is trapped in a collapsed building and has little to no injury, they can last up to a week.

Miracles do happen. Seven people were freed from the rubble in Turkey after the initial earthquake, according to a report.

Simpson with the University at Buffalo said she wishes each time disaster strikes there would be an immediate mobilization of rescue crews and military. That’s not always the case, and it wasn’t in Turkey and Syria, she said.

The Turkish government has come under criticism for its response. The first day, the President admitted they had some difficulties, but insisted the situation was under control by the second and third days.

“The single, biggest failure point in emergency response is failure to pick up on the fact that this is an emergency,” Simpson said. The idea is to wait and get more information.

She said that with all of the emergencies, you are not in Kansas anymore. “These are not normal conditions and so we need to stop asking what’s the best thing to do at the moment.” It’s all good. Let’s get moving.”

In many areas around the world, including Turkey, the military is best equipped to operate in a disaster-transformed landscape and to open airstrips to get aid in quickly, she said.

The Turkish government did not immediately mobilize its military to assist in the direct rescue efforts, or to establish the necessary field hospitals and airstrips according to an analysis published by the Middle East Institute.

It’s never too early to respond when you’re not getting information from a region, and she said that is an important lesson. “I think that that will make an impression on decision-makers elsewhere, that will actually help people in the future.”

This latest disaster reminds Lanning how important it is to strengthen infrastructure in earthquake-prone areas to survive a crisis like the one in Turkey and Syria.

“Especially in areas prone to earthquakes, a lot of the damage there is because of the type of construction and buildings,” said Lanning, who has worked for 15 years in various earthquake-prone areas of the world.

This is despite the fact that concrete buildings are not the best at withstanding earthquakes. He claimed that they are easy to build and can easily conceal flaws.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2023/02/16/1156636019/the-earthquake-in-turkey-and-syria-offers-lessons-and-reminders-for-disaster-res

The impact of the 1999 Istanbul earthquake on Istanbul, and if elections are possible, how will the government respond to it? An architect’s perspective

Much of the work done to analyze the latest disaster will come in the next few months and years. Lanning said that it’s incredibly valuable work.

A lawyer who was critical of the government’s initial response to the earthquake is under investigation by prosecutors. The lawyer was reportedly charged with “insulting the state.”

“It’s very sad, and for me as an architect, seeing all those buildings collapsed and people under the rubble, it’s especially – it made me, actually, furious,” he says. “And the question comes to Istanbul: is Istanbul vulnerable?”

Ozgenler’s answer is yes. Improvements on the books after an earthquake in 1999 killed over 17,000 people were a good start, but he thinks more needs to be done.

Critics have pointed to so-called “zoning amnesties” given to contractors. These allowed buildings to be constructed more quickly, in part by skipping safety measures intended to strengthen a building’s capacity to resist an earthquake.

Many people acted to increase their commercial space by taking out load-bearing walls or columns, which would compromise the structural integrity of the building.

“They have blood on their hands, and that makes me really, really angry when I see this,” Ozgenler says. “I mean, you don’t need an earthquake of 7.7 [magnitude] to see a building … fall over like this, if there’s no walls in the building, no core.”

If the building owners are to be blamed for weak buildings in quake prone areas, it is up to the state to enforce the building code, says analyst Sinan Ulgen at Istanbul’s Center for Economics and Foreign Policy.

It is likely that there will be some kind of backlash against the government’s initial earthquake response, and it is also likely that the prime minister will take steps to shelter everyone who needs a home within a year.

This is all happening just weeks before elections were expected to be called, possibly to be held in May. It remains to be seen whether elections will be possible, given the challenges of holding a vote in heavily damaged cities in the earthquake zone.

Ulgen says that the political impact of the disaster will be a handicap for the government.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2023/02/20/1157837625/turkey-earthquake-damage-istanbul-safety-readiness

How far is Turkey going from the election? — An alternative perspective on Turkey’s epoch of growth and failure to achieve a democratic goal

He states that the elections are a Constitutional obligation, and that it will be up to the president to decide if he wants to delay the vote, but he doesn’t think that will happen.

Meanwhile, the six-party opposition coalition has yet to announce its own presidential candidate, adding one more layer of uncertainty to where Turkey goes from here.

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