Turkey commemorates 1999 earthquake

16:44, August 17, 2010      

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Turkey on Tuesday held memorial services in Istanbul and other cities to commemorate the deadly earthquake on Aug. 17, 1999.

The memorial services were held at local time 3:02 a.m. (0002 GMT), the time when the powerful earthquake hit the region, claiming 18,000 lives and injuring over 48,000 people.

The Aug. 17 earthquake was one of the most devastating quakes in Turkey's history. It registered 7.4 on the Richter scale and its epicenter was in Golcuk town. Over 110,000 buildings collapsed during the earthquake.

Despite spending 1.1 billion Turkish Liras (some 0.73 billion U. S. dollars) to get ready for a major earthquake, Istanbul is scarcely better prepared for a devastating tremor than it was when the earthquake hit 11 years ago, experts said.

"Neither local nor central administrators are taking ( precautions against natural disasters) into consideration," said Dundar Caglan, the head of the Chamber of Geology Engineers, a part of the Turkish Union of Engineers and Architects Chambers.

"We keep talking, but so far there is no plan," Orhan Turan, the chairman of the Association of Turkish Building-Material Producers, said last week, "most of the residences built after 1999 are strong enough to resist earthquakes, but the rest of them are weak, so we need a master plan and a defined budget to restructure the old buildings."

However, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality argued that it has stepped up preparations, establishing two disaster stockpiles and a logistics center able to provide food for 250,000 people on a daily basis as well as a portable kitchen that can feed 20,000 people a day.

It has also installed 4,450 new fire hydrants, set up 2,500 emergency healthcare units and built 71 new heliports, while preparing a variety of risk maps, establishing a satellite communication system, boosting the number of earthquake monitoring stations and starting work on reinforcing bridges, viaducts and buildings around the city, said the municipality.

Source: Xinhua


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