11 years after Aug. 1999 quake, efforts focus on post-disaster relief
Eleven years have passed since what to this day remains arguably the most traumatizing natural disaster to ever have affected Turkey, the Aug. 17, 1999 earthquake – a devastating tragedy that left nearly 18,000 dead and 49,000 injured, according to official records. However, experts say little improvement has been made in terms of earthquake readiness on the 11th anniversary of the disaster, with most of the measures taken focusing on what needs to be done after an earthquake happens. Experts warn that efforts to reinforce structures to prepare them for a potential quake in Turkey, especially in Istanbul where a major quake has been expected for some time, have been seriously lagging. The chief criticism says measures aren't focused on minimizing the loss of life and damage to property but rather on managing the aftermath of a quake. The 7.4 earthquake took place at 3:02 am on Aug. 17, 11 years ago, with its epicenter in Golcuk. It caused much damage and destruction and took many lives in Kocaeli, Golcuk, Duzce, Sakarya, Yalova and Istanbul. The quake brought down 112,000 buildings, and in Istanbul left 124 structures damaged. According to the law, all of these structures should have been demolished within the first year after the quake, but the majority are still waiting to be razed.