On anniversary of deasting Marmara Quake, experts stress Turkey has to be earthquake-savvy
Marking the 11th anniversary of the devastating Aug. 17, 1999 earthquake yesterday, experts stressed that Turkey must become a nation that is knowledgeable about earthquakes and ready to face them. Some 18,000 people died in the 7.4 earthquake centered in Golcuk, which 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. But Turkey has been slow to reinforce weak buildings in most residential areas, according to experts. "We have the obligation to become a society that has a strong awareness of earthquakes and that lives in sturdy buildings," said Dogan Kalafat, the director of the Kandilli Observatory's National Earthquake Monitoring Center. Speaking at a panel in Golcuk, Kalafat said Turkey sees an average of 25 tremors every day, and that earthquakes of magnitude 6 or higher occur every 10 years. Stressing that the nation must learn how to protect itself from earthquakes, Kalafat said people should find out whether the buildings they live in are quake resistant. "We must become a society that has a strong awareness of earthquakes and lives in strong buildings," he said. "We have to pass this on to our children. Making a building earthquake resistant adds not more than 10 percent to the cost. The ground it is built on and how it is built should be examined."