earthquake measuring 6.8 - 7.0 on the Richter Scale.
epicentre of the earthquake was near the industrial city
of Izmit, about 55 miles east of Istanbul, Turkey.
earthquake occurred on Tuesday 17th August at 3.02 a.m.
local time (12 am GMT). The earthquake lasted 45 seconds.
sits between two huge tectonic plates, Eurasia and Africa/Arabia,
which are grinding into one another, north to south. The
Turkish landmass is a small tectonic plate, which is being
squeezed like a pip between the two giants. This movement
has created the Anatolian fault (conservative margin). The
conservative margin slipped causing the earthquake. Many
of Turkey's major cities are located along this fault.
many towns and cities affected by the earthquake population
levels have been increasing rapidly. People have been migrating
from rural to urban areas to escape military crackdown by
the Turkish army and rush to the big city in search of a
better life. Most people who move to urban areas have little
money. They live crammed into desperately crowded poor housing.
Many live in accommodation which they built themselves.
These buildings are known locally as gecekondus. The name
means built in a night. These buildings easily collapsed
during the earthquake.
It was those among the poor who had saved enough to move
into tower blocks who were most affected. Turkey has a building
code, which is as stringent as California's but it is rarely
enforced. This cheaply built, illegal housing lies at the
heart of the disaster, say engineering experts. It accounts
for why so many houses just crumpled like packs of cards
and why older or more solid buildings remained intact.
In Turkey the rate of urbanisation has been very high and
unfortunately the control and supervision of the building
quality has not been as good as it should be. Turkey's Chamber
of Commerce estimates that some 65 per cent of all buildings
are constructed without a permit or with scant attention
to building regulations. More than half the population in
Istanbul is living in illegal accommodation, it says.
The immediate hazards were the collapse of poorly
constructed buildings (many of which did not meet Turkey's
building standards) and damage to power lines and pipes
causing fires. People were trapped in houses as they slept
and many were killed by falling masonry. In all, 17,000
people died and over 27,000 were injured. Tidal waves flooded
farmland on the coast causing damage to crops. Fire at an
oil refinery caused air pollution.
The longer-term consequences were that 200,000 people
were made homeless and had to live in tents for many weeks
with no running water or proper sanitation. People suffered
from diarrhoea due to lack of clean water and untreated
sewage contaminated rivers killing fish.
Many countries, including the UK, The USA, Germany, France
and Japan all provided Turkey with aid. The short-term aid
included medical supplies, tents, blankets and Emergency
Rescue Teams. In the long term Turkey will need assistance
in planning for natural disasters (education) and money
to repair its infrastructure.