İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has said that one out of every three buildings in İstanbul, Turkey’s most populous city, is unable to withstand an earthquake, Turkish media reported on Wednesday.
İmamoğlu indicated that he still remembered the chaos and despair after the earthquake of August 17, 1999 and said İstanbul’s population was just 10 million at the time.
In one of the country’s worst earthquakes, more than 17,000 people were killed in August 1999 when a 7.6 magnitude temblor struck the western city of İzmit, 90 kilometers (55 miles) southeast of İstanbul, rendering half a million İstanbul residents homeless.
“The city now hosts a large number of migrants, with a population of nearly 20 million. Therefore, İstanbul must take this situation more seriously, and we must plan accordingly,” he said.
Noting that he was alarmed by the results of building inspections carried out for the last year and a half, İmamoğlu said one in every three buildings in the city is not likely to withstand an earthquake.
İmamoğlu urged residents to confront the problem, adding, “If residents prioritize money over safety, and if we can’t resolve this problem, then we will have trouble.”
Turkey is crisscrossed by fault lines and has a history of powerful earthquakes.
In 2011 an earthquake struck the eastern city of Van and the town of Erciş, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) to the north, killing at least 523 people.
On January 24, 2020, 41 people were killed when a 6.8 magnitude quake hit the eastern province of Elazığ.
More recently, a powerful earthquake that hit the Aegean province of İzmir in October 2020 killed 114 people and injured 1,035.