Turkey, building collapsed by earthquake in İzmir

800,000 buildings not prepared for earthquakes should be demolished in Turkey

Experts say 800,000 buildings need to be demolished and rebuilt in Istanbul and İzmir, and that 1 in 4 Istanbul residents are in danger.

At least 800,000 buildings, 400,000 in Istanbul and another 400,000 in İzmir, should be demolished in Turkey because they were built before 1999, when anti-earthquake legislation was tightened in the country in the wake of the Great Marmara Earthquake that devastated the northwest of Turkey, leaving about 20,000 dead.

“Over time, concrete decomposition and iron corrosion occurs in buildings. Therefore, we have to discover it and demolish them,” the president of the European and Turkish Ready-Mix Concrete Association, Yavuz Işık, told the Turkish daily Hürriyet.

Before the 1999 earthquake in the Marmara, the C10-type concrete used was sufficient to construct buildings; but currently the use of more resistant type C20 and C30 concrete is mandatory. According to Işık, at least a third of the 1.2 million buildings in İzmir and a quarter of the 1.6 million buildings in Istanbul were built before 1999, with less stringent building regulations than today.

To add to the danger, “most of these structures are schools, hospitals and university residences,” says the expert, who then adds: “There are many decaying structures in İzmir. We have to evacuate these buildings as soon as possible. And it would only take 6 months to detect all these structures “.

1 in 4 inhabitants of Istanbul is in danger

According to Işık, the districts most in danger in İzmir are those of Bayraklı, Bornova and Balçova. “In these areas the soil is not strong enough for vertical development. Buildings with a maximum of four floors should be authorised,” he says. In fact, after the recent earthquake in İzmir, several media pointed to the structural problems suffered by some of the buildings that collapsed in Bayraklı, and that they had been built on old wetlands.

In the case of Istanbul, this construction expert pointed out that the city council has already started to carry out a study on structural problems in buildings in the highest risk districts, such as Büyükçekmece or Avcılar. “In Istanbul, one in four people is in danger. That is, 1.6 million lives are at risk. If we cannot finish this urban renewal before the earthquake that is expected in Istanbul, we will lose a third of the city“, he stated.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has announced that the construction of new houses for those affected by the earthquake in İzmir will begin in a month, and that they will be delivered by the end of 2021; meanwhile, those people must live in about 1,000 prefabricated modules. Erdoğan has also announced the construction of 1.5 million earthquake-resistant houses over the next 5 years by the state agency TOKI, although experts say this figure is insufficient.

Regarding the cost of demolition and reconstruction of buildings that are not prepared for earthquakes in Turkey, the expert estimates that it would take about 5 billion dollars to complete the necessary urban renovation process.