State agency suggests individual action against quake

State agency suggests individual action against quake
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A total of almost 1.1 million buildings in Istanbul are at least 23 years of age, AA has said, urging people to engage in reinforcement or rebuilding.

A day after the Turkish president claimed that nearly all buildings destroyed by the earthquake on 6 February had been constructed before 1999, Turkish state news agency AA rushed to inform that a significant part of the buildings in Istanbul, a city living in fear of a possible if not imminent quake, were also "old ones."

President Erdogan said on Tuesday that 98% of the buildings that collapsed in the earthquake zone on 6 February were "ones that had been constructed before 1999."

"While it shows us the progress we achieved in terms of [high] building standards and supervision, it also reminds us that we have to work harder," he added.

Erdogan's remark sparked reactions with many saying that even what he claimed were true it would not free him of any responsibility, and independent media cited Turkish Statistical Institute's (TUIK) official data according to which at least half of the population in seven quake-hit provinces have been living in buildings that had been constructed after 2001, during Erdogan's terms as prime minister and president.

In a report published a day after Erdogan's remark, AA said that a notable part of the building stock in Istanbul consisted of old ones, apparently more vulnerable to high magnitude quakes.

Over 818,000 buildings in Istanbul had been constructed between 1980 and 2000, and a further 264,000 before 1980, the report stated, citing experts who called on people to have their residences tested for durability and to enforce or rebuild the structure in accordance with the results.

Shifting the major responsibility to take action against earthquake risks from the central government and local administrations to the residents of Istanbul is not realistic though, as costs for reinforcing buildings or rebuilding are not affordable for most people.