Bingol not ready for an earthquake, experts warn

Bingol not ready for an earthquake, experts warn
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Damage assessment work is inadequate, and disaster planning is lacking.

by Remzi Budancir

Bingol, a province at the intersection of the Eastern and Northern Anatolian Fault Lines, is one of the most earthquake-prone regions in Turkey. However, a recent damage assessment study has revealed that the city is not adequately prepared for a significant earthquake.

The study by the Provincial Directorate of Environment and Urbanization Climate Change found that 3,047 buildings in Bingöl were severely damaged. Most buildings were constructed before the 2003 Bingöl earthquake and do not meet current earthquake safety standards.

The study also found that the damage assessment process was inadequate. Only the homes of those who petitioned were assessed, and not all buildings in the city were inspected.

This lack of preparation is a significant concern for experts who warn that a major earthquake in Bingol could be devastating.

"Bingol is in a hazardous area," said Emre Bulsu, provincial representative of the TMMOB (Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects). "Although 70 percent of the town has been renovated, 25 percent is still risky."

Bulsu also pointed out that there is no disaster planning for Bingöl. "There is no plan for what to do during or after an earthquake," he said. "We need to prepare an action plan and act within the framework of that plan."

No disaster plan for Bingol

Canfidal Boldas, secretary of the TMMOB's Bingol Provincial Coordinating Committee, said the province is not prepared for an earthquake in terms of infrastructure and disaster planning.

"The main deficiency at the moment is that the damage assessment studies have not been completed," Boldas said. "The damage assessment work needs to be completed, the buildings that pose a risk need to be evacuated, and the housing needs of the evacuated citizens need to be met."

Boldas also said there is no disaster plan for Bingol. "We're talking about a management plan," he said. "What to do in case of a disaster? How do you intervene? What needs to be done? For example, the most serious problem in a disaster is the disruption of communications. Will there be mobile base stations or databases that provide the Internet? We need to prepare for that."

Boldas called on the local government and the public to work together to prepare for an earthquake. "We have always emphasized the coordination of public dynamics," he said. "We want to draw attention to this issue again."