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Turkish gov’t slammed for inaction despite earlier warnings about possible quake

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Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has come under fire over a massive earthquake that killed more than a thousand people in the country due to its failure to take action despite experts’ earlier warnings.

A 7.8-magnitude quake struck early on Monday near the Turkish city of Gaziantep, which is home to around 2 million people and on the border with Syria, claiming the lives of 1,121 people and injuring over 7,000 more, according to official figures.

Some nine hours after the first quake, another one with a magnitude of 7.5 also struck four kilometers (2.5 miles) south-southeast of the town of Ekinözü at 1:24 p.m. (1024 GMT), the US Geological Survey said.

Naci Görür, an earthquake expert with Turkey’s Academy of Sciences, said on social media on Monday that they have been warning the authorities about a possible earthquake in the region but hadn’t been taken seriously.

“This earthquake is massive. I hope we won’t have many casualties. We, as geoscientists, have been repeatedly saying and writing that this quake was coming. No one even asked us what we were talking about,” Görür said in a tweet.

Following a 4.2-magnitude earthquake in southern Osmaniye province, Görür last week expressed concern about a possible quake being triggered in a region that includes the city of Kahramanmaraş, where the devastating earthquake occurred this morning.

“[The earthquake occurred in] the region we’ve been warning about for years. Not a single local administrator had called us and asked what to do [about it]. Why did we issue all those warnings?” journalist Fatih Altaylı also quoted Görür in a tweet as saying.

According to a report by the Demirören news agency (DHA), geology engineer Osman Bektaş, a former faculty member at Karadeniz Technical University (KTÜ), also said Monday’s quake was “no coincidence” but was expected in the scientific world.

In late November 2022, the ruling AKP and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), rejected a parliamentary motion by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to investigate ways to take measures against earthquakes, such as identifying buildings that aren’t earthquake resistant and determining earthquake assembly areas.

Turkey is in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones.

Turkey’s Marmara region suffered a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in 1999 — the worst to hit Turkey in decades.

That quake killed more than 17,000 people, including about 1,000 in İstanbul.

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