ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News
A lack of preparation for a possible earthquake reflects the fatalistic attitude of ordinary people nine years after tens of thousands died in a quake in northwestern Turkey.
While many continue to remember the devastating affects of the 1999 quake, most of the nation seems to be delegating the preparations to state institutions. Onur Gülsun experienced the 1999 quake in Yalova, very close to the Gölcük quarter of the Kocaeli district where the earthquake was felt highly. He said that if an earthquake as powerful as the one that happened nine years ago happens in Istanbul, it would have catastrophic results.
�The only thing survivals should do is to be calm and quiet, otherwise you may cause more deaths,� said Gülsun and added that he only trusts in the Turkish military, civil defense unities and common people who take responsibility in case of an earthquake. �The governments could do many things in Istanbul in nine years, but they did not,� said Gülsun, complaining about the indifference.
Fatalism about earthquakes
�Our destiny will show us what will happen,� said Erhan Avcı, a young man, when he was asked by the Turkish Daily News whether he had taken any measures against an earthquake. �I did not take any measures,� said Avcı and added that Kağıthane municipality officials inspected their house in 2003 and said that it is resistant to a quake. Avcı said the state or municipalities should do inspections and draw people's attention to the problem. �The state should give courses about earthquake and precautions against it,� said Avcı, echoing the sentiments of a majority of the residents of Istanbul.
Most people explained why they do not take any measures against an earthquake by saying they felt an earthquake would not happen in Istanbul any time soon. �I think that it will not happen since we never experienced an earthquake,� said Umut Balkışlı, student. �When I hear about earthquake on TV; I think I should prepare a survival kit for one second, and then I do not bother to do it,� said Yavuz Özer, student.
Optimism is another reason for not being prepared for earthquake, although, every week there is news about a possible quake in Istanbul in press. �I live in Merter and it is close Avcılar district of Istanbul where the quake in 1999 felt strongly. Well, I believe we will survive an earthquake; I guess we will not die,� said Zeynep Nigar. She said after the quake in 1999 she prepared a survival kit, including water, biscuits and her jewelry, but she put it aside after a while. �We forget easily, so that I do not have a kit now,� said Nigar, agreeing with a majority of Istanbul residents.
Many people in Istanbul said they have never wanted or thought that it is necessary to learn how to do first aid. Most claimed that they would attend a course to learn first aid only if it were free of charge. �There should be courses to raise the awareness about the earthquakes especially targeting housewives and they should be free of charge,� said Erhan Avcı.
The indifference to a possible earthquake of the people living in Istanbul can also be explained with the pessimism about the results of the earthquake. Some people believe that the devastation after a possible big earthquake in Istanbul will be terrible.