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
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
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,
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
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.