As Turkey reels from the devastation caused by twin earthquakes last month, İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has announced an action plan to make his city more prepared for powerful earthquakes, the Birgün daily reported.
The twin earthquakes, which were followed by many aftershocks, struck the 11 provinces in Turkey’s south and southeast, claiming the lives of more than 45,000 people in Turkey and several thousand in neighboring Syria.
The massive devastation and the high death toll caused by the earthquakes on Feb. 6 sparked concerns about İstanbul, a city of 16 million with overcrowded, shoddy buildings that were not constructed in line with modern building codes, as experts have been warning that the city, situated near the North Anatolian Fault, is likely to be hit by a powerful earthquake at some point in the future.
İmamoğlu, who on Wednesday revealed his municipality’s “Earthquake Mobilization Plan,” said, “We are making a new start to make this historical city resistant to earthquakes and other disasters.”
The municipality’s plan has five goals: reinforcing buildings against earthquakes; improving the city’s infrastructure and transportation network; carrying out seismic and geological studies; creating earthquake assembly areas and shelters; and educating people on behavior during and after a disaster.
İmamoğlu said his municipality would help the owners of poorly constructed buildings have their properties reinforced against earthquakes and that the cost of the retrofitting would be payable in installments over the course of several years.
The İstanbul mayor said his municipality has received more than 110,000 applications from İstanbulites since Feb. 6 who want municipal teams to inspect their buildings to determine if they would be able to withstand a powerful earthquake.
Following the Feb. 6 earthquakes, students from 93 poorly constructed schools in İstanbul were transferred to other schools.
In addition, the Health Ministry this week decided to empty the Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty Hospital and Kağıthane State Hospital on the grounds that the buildings were old, shoddy and not earthquake resistant.