Report: 90,000 people could die if quake hits İstanbul

A powerful earthquake could kill up to 90,000 people if it struck İstanbul, which has suffered devastating quakes in the past, a report published by the municipality said on Thursday. The report came out on the eve of the ninth anniversary of the earthquake that hit İstanbul in 1999.

Some 18,000 people -- 1,000 of them in Istanbul -- were killed in a magnitude 7.4 temblor in northwest Turkey in August 1999. Many of the deaths were blamed on substandard building construction.
It is estimated that there could be some $40 billion in property damage if there was a quake registering a magnitude of 7.7, with the rescue operation covering 1 million people, according to the report, published jointly by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the city council. Another 135,000 people could be badly injured and more than half a million could be left homeless, according to the scenario. İstanbul, like many areas of Turkey, is close to a major fault line and has suffered major earthquakes in the past.

Work on the report was conducted by four Japanese and 10 Turkish scientists and a team of engineers, and was based on a nighttime population of 9 million people in the city. The report assessed scenarios based on earthquakes with magnitudes of 6.9, 7.4, 7.5 and 7.7. It said 70,000-90,000 would be killed in the case of a quake registering of 7.5 or 7.7.
The city council has prepared an earthquake master plan to cope with such a scenario, focused on assessing the earthquake resistance of buildings and tearing them down or reinforcing them if necessary. It did not give a forecast timescale for any possible earthquake. Experts have said previously that there was a 50 percent chance of a quake with a magnitude of at least 7.0 hitting the city within three decades. Istanbul has some 12 million inhabitants.
In the meantime, the İstanbul Governor's Office is organizing an event to introduce measures for earthquake emergency response and preparedness.
The Provincial Disaster Control Center will hold a meeting on "Earthquake Preparation, Emergency Response and Infrastructure" on Sunday, where earthquake preparation infrastructure and emergency response measures will be presented to the public. According to a statement provided to Today's Zaman, Minister of Public Works and Settlement Faruk Nafiz Özak, Minister of Education Hüseyin Çelik, Minister of Internal Affairs Be?ir Atalay and Governor of Istanbul Muammer Güler will participate in the informational meeting.
At the end of the meeting there will be an exhibition organized by various institutions in the backyard of the Province Disaster Control Center.