Istanbul Mayor warns about risk of 90,000 buildings collapsing in expected major quake

Amid warnings that a major earthquake is expected to hit Istanbul in the near future, Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has said there are 90,000 buildings that have a risk of entirely collapsing in the megacity. As he called for the establishment of an earthquake council, he said: “I wish I could have told Istanbul citizens, ‘Rest and sleep in your houses in peace.’”

Duvar English

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has warned that there are 90,000 structures that have a risk of collapsing in a major earthquake in the megacity.

“When we took over the job (of mayorship of the megacity), the records of the previous management mentioned 40,000-50,000 risky structures. In the work we have conducted, we are estimating that there are as of now 90,000 structures that are severely damaged, i.e. have a risk of collapsing. Among them are workplaces and houses. We are aware that we have to move very fast (in terms of renewing the structures),” İmamoğlu said on Feb. 15 in remarks to a TV program.  

He said that 317,000 structures have been so far granted amnesty for buildings that did not meet earthquake construction codes in the megacity. “The state should not have done this (granted amnesty). The buildings are damaged, are in the wrong places, will collapse. Istanbul can’t be run with such an understanding…I wish I could have told Istanbul citizens, ‘Rest and sleep in your houses in peace,’” İmamoğlu said.

If a building is granted an amnesty and the relevant fine is paid, the structure is not demolished even though it does not meet the relevant requirements listed in the building and earthquake regulations.

As experts have been awaiting for a major earthquake with a magnitude above 7 to hit Istanbul in the near future, İmamoğlu urged the necessity of the establishment of an earthquake committee. He said that he told the government about his suggestion and the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality had even submitted a draft about this.

“I am talking about a mechanism that consists of the (Urbanization) Ministry, Governor’s Office, Metropolitan Municipality, district municipalities, construction and building sector, financial sector, insurance sector and neighborhood representatives,” he said.

The long-awaited earthquake is expected to create massive material devastation in the city, and experts often note that the construction in the metropolis is unlikely to be prepared for the quake.

Turkey is crossed by fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. Last week, two major earthquakes, one at a magnitude of 7.7 and the other at 7.6, hit the country’s southeastern region, leading to thousands of deaths.