Istanbul, a ship (ferry) on the Bosphorus

Ships on the Bosphorus to evacuate Istanbul in case of earthquake

An emergency plan in the event of a major earthquake in Istanbul, plans to evacuate its 16 million inhabitants by land, sea, train and air.

Ships on the Bosphorus will evacuate Istanbul residents by sea in the event of an earthquake to take them to other provinces, according to a plan drawn up by Turkey’s Interior Ministry in collaboration with various agencies in the face of a possible earthquake greater than 7 degrees, which some experts believe Istanbul could suffer in the next decades.

The plan foresees 4 evacuation routes by sea, air, land and railway for the 16 million inhabitants of the city – the most populous in Turkey – in the event that a high intensity earthquake – the expected Big One – hits the Turkish metropolis.

In total, and according to information published in the Turkish media, there will be 23 evacuation centres in the city where the population will meet at first, to later be transferred to several designated “support provinces” in the west, east and south of the country using all available means of transport.

Precisely the first evacuation route would be by sea, where ships would wait for the inhabitants on the coast to be evacuated safely from the docks of Sirkeci, İstinye, Zeytinburnu, Yenikapı, Harem and Pendik. As for evacuation by train, it would be carried out from Yeşilköy, Halkalı and Tuzla stations.

Istanbul population to be evacuated to 18 provinces throughout Turkey

The Esenler, Alibeyköy, Samandıra and Harem bus terminals in Istanbul have been designated as the four main emergency evacuation points by road; finally, the city’s three international airports – Istanbul Airport, Atatürk Airport and Sabiha Gökçen – would be used to evacuate residents of the city by air.

The plan drawn up by the Turkish authorities envisages giving priority in evacuating the city to disabled people, followed by women, children and elderly. As for the so-called “support provinces” that will host the evacuees, they have been divided into two main groups.

A first group is made up of 11 provinces in western, southern and central Turkey, and includes Balıkesir, Eskişehir, Ankara, Manisa, İzmir, Afyonkarahisar, Konya, Antalya, Denizli, Samsun and Kayseri; the second group will be made up of 7 provinces in the north and east of Anatolia, and is made up of Adana, Gaziantep, Malatya, Trabzon, Diyarbakır, Erzurum and Erzincan.

This plan to evacuate Istanbul residents by ships, planes, buses and trains in the event of an earthquake has been drawn up by the Ministry of the Interior, the Istanbul Governor’s Office, the Agency for Disaster and Emergency Management (AFAD) and the provincial command of the gendarmerie. Turkey is a country very prone to earthquakes: in September 2019 an earthquake in Istanbul left 34 injured and 473 buildings damaged.