News Analysis: Monday's catastrophic earthquakes should serve as wake-up call for preparedness, say experts-Xinhua

News Analysis: Monday's catastrophic earthquakes should serve as wake-up call for preparedness, say experts

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-02-11 22:53:15

by Burak Akinci

GAZIANTEP, Türkiye, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- The twin earthquakes that struck southeastern Türkiye and northern Syria on Monday and caused massive human losses and damage should serve as a wake-up call for earthquake preparedness, experts said.

More than 12,000 buildings have either collapsed or sustained serious damage in a magnitude-7.7 earthquake in early morning and another magnitude-7.6 one in the afternoon, Turkish Minister of Environment and Climate Change Murat Kurum said Friday.

The latest official death toll from the earthquakes is 21,043 in Türkiye, with over 80,000 injured.

As Türkiye sits on active fault lines, scientists have regularly issued warnings for citizens and the government to be prepared for an earthquake, especially since the last major one in 1999 that hit the northwestern Marmara region and killed over 17,000.

"The 1999 earthquake should have served as a lesson, but we choose not to take that lesson," Naci Gorur, a geologist who is a member of Turkish Academy of Sciences, said on private Haberturk channel on Wednesday.

According to Gorur, he and his colleagues had been long warning about a possible major earthquake in the vast quake-affected areas, but the possibility had been ignored.

"To die in an earthquake is not destiny, it is a lack of management," Ovgun Ahmet Ercan, also a well-known geoscientist in Türkiye, wrote on Twitter on Friday.

Addressing the criticism that the quake response was not swift enough, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said it was impossible to get prepared for a calamity like the earthquakes that struck the country on Monday.

It is worth noting that the Turkish government has been collecting an earthquake tax in the wake of the 1999 magnitude-7.6 quake to create a fund for disaster preparedness and relief efforts, and has also imposed stricter building codes in order to ensure the resilience of new structures.

"Despite (new) regulations, they have been broken by contractors as well as state and municipal authorities who have been not vigilant enough or have turned a blind eye," Suleyman Ergin, an urban planner from the capital Ankara, told Xinhua.

In addition, around 100,000 buildings in the earthquake zone have been granted construction amnesties by the government since 1999, which means poorly-constructed structures can remain standing, according to Ergin.

The multi-storey building stock in the quake-affected areas had largely been constructed before the seismic design was conceived, he noted.