Aftershocks keep rattling Malatya, bringing building safety into question again

Aftershocks keep rattling Malatya, bringing building safety into question again
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Six earthquakes of magnitude four or higher have occurred in the region hit by February's earthquakes in the past 15 days, causing concerns about structural stability.

By Yusuf Durdu

Six aftershocks of magnitude four or above in the last 15 days have shaken Malatya, devastated by the magnitude 7.8 and 7.6 earthquakes that struck Maras on February 6. This renewed seismic activity has brought the safety of buildings in the area into discussion once again.

Malatya may experience more earthquakes, says Vehbi Aluclu from Inonu University’s Construction Technologies Department. There was an even stronger one before the recent one in Yesilyurt. Since the fault line there is not very long, it likely does not have the potential to generate an earthquake over the 5.6 magnitude tremor that struck on February 27.”

Emphasizing that there are over 500 active fault lines in Turkey, Aluclu said, “Let’s stop talking about faults. Ninety-two percent of Turkey lies in an earthquake zone. Our main issue is with buildings. Structures built before 2000 were constructed poorly. People lost lives and property in these unsafe buildings. If people don’t die in 9.4 magnitude quakes in Japan and Chile, but we fear 4, 5, and 6 magnitude tremors here, the problem lies in our construction practices. Our buildings were constructed without proper oversight until 2000.”

Aluclu noted that damage assessments for buildings have been revised, with reports now indicating lower or moderate damage instead of severe damage. "Demolish heavily damaged buildings immediately," he warned.. There are around three thousand buildings with medium damage. Assessments have been made three times. The heavily damaged buildings have been relabeled as low or medium damage. We do not know the true state of our buildings. To find out, we need an earthquake performance analysis. Without experimental data, no claims are credible or scientific. No technician can assess a building by sight alone.”