Turkey on Aug. 17 commemorated the victims of a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in 1999 that killed over 17,000 people in the Marmara region, as experts continued to raise concerns on the lack of precautions in the face of a similar powerful quake.
The quake, of which the epicenter was the Gölcük district, hit at 3:02 a.m. on Aug. 17, 1999 and lasted for 45 seconds, causing massive destruction in Kocaeli, Sakarya, İstanbul, Düzce and Yalova.
A commemoration ceremony was held in Gölcük to remember the victims.
The high death toll was mostly caused by negligence, with the buildings being not durable enough.
Although over 17,000 people lost their lives as a result, experts point to the fact that no progress has been made on adopting precautions in the 21 years that followed.
'200,000 people can die'
Prof. Mehmet Fatih Altan from Istanbul Aydın University said that some 200,000 people can die when the expected Istanbul quake strikes.
"We are facing an earthquake that will lead to a death toll 10 times higher than the Kocaeli earthquake. Istanbul's population density is higher than Kocaeli and 85 percent of the buildings in Istanbul are not earthquake resistant," Altan said, adding that a 7.5 magnitude earthquake is expected.
"It can strike even now. The precautions need to be adopted rapidly," he said.
Dr. Oğuz Gündoğdu from Istanbul University also raised concerns, saying that the 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Silivri on Sept. 26, 2019 can be accepted as a final warning.
"Several other quakes have followed. It shows that the Marmara Sea is gathering energy and is ready to release it," Gündoğdu said.
"I don't see any proper structuring in the 21 years that followed," he added.
Prof. Mikdat Kadıoğlu from Istanbul Technical University pointed to the fact that the Istanbul earthquake was expected to hit in 30 years in 1999.
"That means we have nine years left. We're next to a ticking time bomb," Kadıoğlu said.
Diver shows sunken city to draw attention to necessity of measures
Underwater Sports Federation's Environmental Committee chair Tahsin Ceylan, meanwhile, has recorded the ruins in the sunken city that formed following the Gölcük earthquake.
Ceylan's video showed a number of household items, as well as remnants of buildings.