Japan and Turkey's quake readiness – Today's Zaman

If a magnitude 9 earthquake had hit Turkey, the death toll would perhaps be in the millions because past experience shows that Turkey is very unprepared for such a disaster. Many think and hope Turkey will take the necessary lessons from the Japanese disaster and that the public will be more conscious and demanding regarding measures that should be taken to prepare for an earthquake.

Looking at the tremendous damage that was caused by the powerful earthquake that hit Japan despite the country’s durable buildings and quake-resistant technology Milliyet’s Taha Akyol questions whether Turkey can build quake-resistant buildings and such systems. “Experts are familiar with tsunami, earthquake and quake-resistant buildings. They explain the details of these on TV and in newspapers. I can only say this: The use of science and technology and the human factor in the wake of an earthquake is not an issue of five, 10 or 30 years ago,” he says. Akyol notes that just as the result of the tectonic movements of 4 million years ago emerge today, the problems of modernization that date back a century emerge today as different levels of economic and technological development. He thinks the market economy and democracy have accelerated Turkey’s growth, but Turkey needs to accelerate this speed further in order to minimize the effects of an earthquake just like Japan did.

Bugun’s Gulay Gokturk, who says there are many lessons that can be taken from the quake which hit Japan, thinks one of the things we should take from this is the possibility of constructing buildings that are resistant even a magnitude 9 earthquake. “If you are careful, you will see that most of the lives lost in Japan were not because of the earthquake, but because of the tsunami. The number of those who died due to the collapse of the building they were in is said to be around 100 initially. In addition, the lives of tens of thousands of people were saved due to an ‘early warning system that can detect an earthquake 14 minutes before its occurrence’,” she says. Gokturk also says she has been demanding the establishment of an early warning system in Turkey for about 12 years; however, Turkey has acted very slowly in taking the necessary measures for an earthquake.

Considering the fact that Turkey is heading to general elections on June 12, Yeni Safak’s Kursat Bumin says every Turkish citizen should ask parliamentary nominees about their proposals for measures to be taken in the event of an earthquake. He says not only residents of Istanbul, where a powerful earthquake is expected, but also voters in all of Turkey’s provinces should ask this question because Istanbul is like the heart of Turkey and the heart of the economy.

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