Turkey Struck By Another Earthquake: Buildings Collapse And Casualties Reported – People sit and stand near a collapsed building following a deadly earthquake in Adiyaman, Turkey, February 12, 2023. REUTERS/Sertac Kayar
The death toll from Turkey’s worst earthquake in modern history reinforces long-standing criticism of lax enforcement of building codes.
Turkey Struck By Another Earthquake: Buildings Collapse And Casualties Reported
As rescuers race to find survivors in the rubble a week after Turkey’s deadliest earthquake, there is growing anger over why so many buildings have collapsed and collapsed to the ground.
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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government has vowed to thoroughly investigate anyone suspected of being responsible for the collapsed building, ordering the arrest of more than 100 suspects so far.
But Erdoğan’s critics accuse his government of failing to enforce building codes, corruption and wasting special taxes collected after the last earthquake in 1999 to make buildings more resilient.
“The killer is not the earthquake, but…those who turn cities into mass graves in the name of urban change, whose signature is at the end of every approved decision,” wrote Feray Aytekin Aydoğan. BirGün newspaper last week.
Environment Minister Murat Kurum said that 24,921 buildings in the region collapsed or were severely damaged by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake, based on an assessment of more than 170,000 buildings.
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The total death toll from the disaster, which has hit parts of Syria and Turkey, exceeded 37,000 on Monday, and it appears to be rising.
After the 1999 earthquake that killed more than 18,000 people in the northwest, building regulations – and corruption – were widely blamed for exacerbating the disaster.
“Rotten building, again thieves of unscrupulous construction contractors,” said one of the major Turkish newspapers.
It is common for developers to circumvent planning regulations and critics say that corrupt politicians and local officials often profit by turning a blind eye to breaches.
Timeline: Turkey Hit By Most Devastating Earthquake Since 1999
In the last 10 years to 2022, with the rapid development of Turkey, the country has dropped 47 places according to Transparency International’s corruption rating, reaching 101, while in 2012 was 54 out of 174 countries.
A man walks past a destroyed building after an earthquake that killed many people in Kahramanmaras, Turkey February 13, 2023. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
Public anger and economic problems, caused in part by the 1999 earthquake, helped Erdoğan’s AK Party seize power in 2002, promising a clean start without the widespread corruption of the past.
The party launched a program of large-scale construction projects – new airports, ports, roads, railways and public housing projects across the country, which contributed to the great success of Turkey’s economy.
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“Construction was one of the pillars of Turkey’s economic growth in the first 10-12 years of the AK Party,” said Wolfgango Piccoli, director of research at Teneo consultancy, referring to the “close relationship ” of the party’s relationship with the construction industry. .
“It’s one of the things that we’ve been celebrating – their ability to do infrastructure quickly, but in reality it may be faster over time,” said Timothy Ash, a Turkish analyst at BlueBay Property Management.
“All the reasons are expected reasons, cost cutting, greed, there is no other way to explain it. You have a culture of going after growth at any cost,” he said.
Opposition politicians accuse the government of establishing what Turks call a “rental system,” a circular financial model in which friendly contractors are awarded lucrative government contracts in exchange for political and financial support.
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“This destruction is the result of a systematic rent-seeking policy,” opposition party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said in a statement after visiting the earthquake-hit southern cities.
Edogan accused the opposition that they are trying to use the situation for political purposes and that they have failed to deal with the corruption in the districts controlled by the opposition and they have also been greatly affected by the disaster.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan meets with people following a deadly earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Turkey February 8, 2023. Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS
In 2007, the government approved new regulations aimed at cleaning up the construction sector to ensure that new buildings are earthquake-resistant and support the old ones.
Race To Find Quake Survivors
Planning regulations have been tightened since then, most recently in 2018, requiring more steel columns and beams to absorb the impact of earthquakes.
But in the same year, the government issued an amnesty for existing buildings that broke the rules – money.
More than 10 million people have registered, bringing the state more than $3 billion in property taxes and registration fees.
More than half of Turkey’s 13 million buildings violate the law, according to official statistics, making amnesties a popular source of income for property owners and the government.
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Another amnesty was proposed last year, despite criticism, passed the parliament even after the last earthquake.
On August 17 of last year, since the 1999 earthquake, the Association of Scientists said that “anyone who votes for the amnesty plan is guilty of incitement to murder”.
The earthquake prompted Erdogan to offer relief and massive reconstruction ahead of elections scheduled for June, which will already be the toughest of his two decades in power.
Any perception that the government failed to properly manage the disaster or did not enforce adequate building regulations could hurt Erdoğan’s poll prospects, but some analysts say he could win national support for the response. crisis.
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During a visit to Hatay province, one of the worst-hit areas, Erdoğan promised to mobilize all construction contractors working in the public housing sector to clean up the damage and restore what was lost. within a year. “We are looking for my niece, Rukiye,” a tired man with bloodshot eyes told local reporters as he surveyed the mangled remains of a hospital in Turkey’s southern Hatay province on Wednesday.
“She’s 23 years old, she’s a nurse. She went into the hospital hours after the first earthquake to help evacuate patients. The building collapsed in the second earthquake. She was very safe, but she didn’t get out on her own. We know she lived for at least 16 hours – she called her husband from the wreckage. But now rescuers say he may be missing.”
Thousands of people like Rukiye are believed to be still trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings in southeastern Turkey after Monday’s devastating earthquake. Two aftershocks and hundreds of aftershocks destroyed at least 6,444 buildings in 10 states, killing more than 12,800 people as of Thursday afternoon, the government said.
As rescue workers continue to sift through the wreckage and search for miracles, the nation is now trying to understand why this natural disaster – which Turkey has been preparing for for more than 20 years – has caused so much damage to the country’s infrastructure. .
Why Did So Many Buildings Collapse In Turkey?
Was it that the two earthquakes – the first 7.8 and the second 7.6 – were simply too strong for most buildings to survive? Or do the buildings not meet modern construction standards? Was there negligence on the part of the authorities?
People stand near collapsed buildings in Golbasi, Adiyaman, southern Turkey, February 8, 2023. Outstretched rescue teams worked overnight to pull more bodies from the rubble of thousands of collapsed buildings [Emrah Gurel/AP Photo]
According to Professor Okan Tuysuz, a geological engineer at Istanbul Technical University, the tragic combination of all of the above led to Monday’s disaster.
“We are dealing with a very large earthquake here,” Tuysuz told Al Jazeera. The first is roughly equivalent to the energy released in an explosion of approximately 5 million tons of TNT. The second was 3.5 million tons. Most buildings would have trouble resisting that kind of force.”
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Sinan Turkkan, civil engineer and chairman of the Turkish Earthquake Reconstruction Association, agreed. “Not only were the earthquakes very strong, but they also hit repeatedly,” he said. “Many buildings sustained light to moderate damage in the first earthquake, but collapsed after the second.”
While the frequency of these tremors poses a threat to any building, experts stress that such a disaster is by no means inevitable.
According to official estimates, 6,000 to 7,000 buildings collapsed on Monday. No matter how strong it is, no earthquake can cause so much damage if all the buildings meet the standard,” said Turkkan.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday defended his government’s earthquake preparedness and response during a visit to the disaster site, saying it was impossible for anyone to prepare for the magnitude of the disaster.
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He then said that the state will restore all the damaged buildings in all the 10 states affected by the earthquake within a year.
“Like we did in Malatya, Elazig, Bingol, Van [we will rebuild here]. This is a business we know very well. Our government has proven its ability to rebuild time and time again. We will achieve it.” the same in Hatay, Maras as well as the other eight affected regions.
Most of the buildings that collapsed on Monday were built before 1999, when a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck the Western Marmara region, killing 17,500 people. A
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