Istanbul launches program to check buildings’ safety following deadly quakes
Turkey’s largest city Istanbul has launched a program to provide rapid scans of buildings as many people worry about the safety of their residences in the wake of devastating February 6 earthquakes that killed more than 53,500 in the country and neighbouring Syria
As Turkey’s financial and cultural hub with over 16 million residents, Istanbul is located at the west end of the North Anatolian Fault Line, which has produced many major earthquakes throughout history, reports Xinhua news agency.
The city government launched the scanning program in a bid to soothe the nerves of local residents.
The service, which includes measuring the consistency of concrete and counting the number of rebars with X-ray scan, will evaluate the strength of the ground and rate the safety level of the checked building accordingly.
Ozlem Tut, head of the Municipality’s Earthquake Risk Management and Urban Improvement Department, told reporters that they received 85,000 applications for the test since the deadly tremors.
The municipal teams prioritise structures built before 2000, checking 150 buildings per day.
If the concrete’s strength is reported as “weak”, then it will be reinforced. If reinforcement is not possible, then the building will be demolished before a new one is built.
In case of demolition, the city provides up to 4,500 Turkish liras ($238) in rental assistance to its residents.
In 1999, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake rattled the industrialized Marmara region, home to Istanbul, killing more than 17,000 people and leaving some 300,000 homeless.
The devastation forced authorities to adopt regulations with nominal construction quality after 2000.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu urged residents to cooperate on the issue, as there is considerable work in the megalopolis of over 1.16 million buildings.
According to the 2021 building inventory, about half of the buildings do not meet earthquake resistance standards.
“This is a call for mobilization,” Imamoglu announced on his social media accounts. “Thousands of buildings in Istanbul must be demolished and constructed to be earthquake-proof.”
Meanwhile, Istanbul University Cerrahpasa Medical Faculty Hospital suspended all the health and education services in its 17 buildings in the compound in the Fatih district on the city’s European side after an earthquake risk examination.
On Monday, Faculty President Nuri Aydin told reporters that the test results revealed that the buildings were at risk and the evacuation had started.
This state-owned hospital is one of the most comprehensive health facilities in the city.
In the wake of the deadly tremors in early February, many Istanbul residents plan to move to earthquake-proof buildings, while the authorities are scrambling to evaluate the buildings’ strength.
As a result, the rents of new apartments have skyrocketed in the city recently, increasing by 10 to 20 per cent in the past 15 days.