Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Full transcript here.

GEOFFREY KING: The earthquake that we expect would happen close to Istanbul will be as big, or bigger, than Izmit. Izmit killed 20,000 or even 30,000 people. The population density around Iz, Istanbul is ten times greater. The scale of the catastrophe to a European city is almost unimaginable.

NARRATOR: What makes this forecast so worrying is that many buildings have not been built to withstand a disaster of this kind.

CELAL SENGOR: We are now in one of the poorest parts of Istanbul. You can imagine that the buildings around us are not of the best quality. When the earthquake hits parts of these buildings will fall down, people will be trapped in them. Some of the people will be able to get out. Some of these streets have natural gas pipelines going under them. They will burst, right. You'll have fires rising. People will try to run away, they'll be ruined, they will try to clamber up, up. Rescue units will try to reach them. It will be complete mayhem in Istanbul if that happened.

NARRATOR: No one can yet tell when the earthquake storm will strike. The forecast simply cannot do this. It could be in 100 years time, it could be tomorrow. The scientists have at least identified where it is likely to hit next. This means there is still time to prepare.

GEOFFREY KING: The stress has been building up in Istanbul. We know there's going to be an earthquake. We don't really know when there's going to be an earthquake, but we know it'll be a major earthquake. Buildings can be improved, construction can be modified, emergency services can become better organised. There are very many things that can be done and this will bring the death toll down by ten times, or even 100 times and it is completely possible and it is economically feasible.

NARRATOR: So the forecast comes with hope. There is a chance this time that the people of Turkey can be prepared where the disaster strikes.


  1. I personally think that it is not the nature that kills people in earthquakes. Even if it does, there is no point in denying the earthquake fact. It will happen. It is just a matter of time. But looking the way will not change, prevent this fact or minimize the fatal consequences. We cannot negotiate with the fault line but we can be prepared when it hits us. People die in earthquakes because of or under the things that are made by human hand: buildings, fires from natural gas lines. It is not impossible to improve these and be prepared to deal with a disaster. Incredible amount of money is spent/sent after a huge disaster. The last example is Haiti. But if we think smart, it is not so hard to see that with a portion of that amount, a lot of things can be done in preparation. In short, it is not the nature that kills. It is the people and their mis-doings that kill. And that can be prevented.

  2. For people who are wondering where to find all these very dry studies mentioned above, here are some of them: -- various official studies and reports, in English, including the famous 729-page JICA/IMM "Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Basic Plan" of 2002, sometimes informally referred to as "the Japanese report". (This is part of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality's website.) -- same documents as above, but in Turkish, including a set of "micro zone" maps that try to predict which neighborhoods of Istanbul would likely be more vulnerable to which hazard in case of an earthquake. Note only maps for the European side are available; maps for the Anatolian side were scheduled to be complete in 2009 and are still yet to be posted online. Also, for some reason the links for these maps are not found on the corresponding English-language page.

    Also, here are two other sites that may interest some of you: -- AHDER Disaster Preparedness And Earthquake Education Association (seems family- and kids-oriented; I have not looked deeply into what they do, how successful they are, etc.) -- Depremele Savaş Derneği. (Seems to be an academically and technically oriented organization. Links to more studies, many are of a very technical nature.)

    Oh a final comment: in my experience with academia in the US, there are often individuals within academia or other rigid/conventional organizations who are actually sympathetic to popular, "crowd-source", or "open-source" ideas, even if some of them may not be able to participate directly or openly. We should try to reach out to them too.