How prepared is Istanbul for an earthquake?

An earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale shook Istanbul last week. Nobody was injured, but scientists have been warning for some time that the region is facing a major earthquake similar to that in 1999, when more than 18,000 people died. Turkish media debate how well prepared for an earthquake the metropolis on the Bosporus is and reach different conclusions.

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T24 (TR) /

Wasted tax revenues

Since the major earthquake of 1999 an earthquake tax has been levied in Turkey. The money is not being spent on safety measures, T24 complains:

“In recent days it has been revealed that this tax has not been used for its intended purpose. ... It has flowed into construction contracts that were awarded haphazardly and in a way that protected and strengthened contractors with close ties to the government. It has been spent on castles for new sultans and their planes and ultra-luxurious lifestyles, on efforts to secure state power on the territory of neighbouring countries and - under the guise of defence spending - on the war industry and the purchase of weapons.”

Yeni Şafak (TR) /

Society divided like a melon

The discussions about earthquake safety have made it painfully clear how ideologically divided Turkey is, writes the Islamic conservative daily Yeni Şafak:

“The Islamic values that have kept this country alive for a thousand years have been attacked by a few blasphemers! This is truly astounding! In a country that splits like a melon as soon as a topic as basic as earthquakes is addressed, and in which the Islamic values that should bind the population in its most trying moments are trodden underfoot, this already represents an earthquake measuring 9 on the Richter scale!”