Turkey, earthquake risk map

Turkey to ban building construction over seismic faults

Following the earthquake in İzmir, Turkish government is studying a law that would limit construction near active faults.

Turkish government is preparing new legislation – which it will soon present to parliament for approval – to study the many active seismic faults that run through the country and ban construction of buildings near these areas, while existing ones will be reinforced so that be resistant to earthquakes like the one that recently struck İzmir, leaving 114 dead and more than a thousand injured.

According to Turkish media, this law would have already been on the executive table after the earthquake that last January left 41 dead in Elazığ, eastern Turkey; but the recent earthquake in the country’s third most populous city has accelerated efforts to push through the new legislation, as preliminary reports underscore that most of the buildings that collapsed in the quake were at obvious risk of damage in the event of an earthquake.

The new regulation, which will be based on similar laws already in existence in other countries with high seismic activity, foresees that a detailed study will be carried out on each active fault line in Turkey to determine the risk that exists of them of generating earthquakes, with what frequency and at what time intervals. In this way, restrictive measures will be applied in those fault lines that are potentially more dangerous.

Once the study is concluded, several areas will be delimited around each risk fault line in which the construction of any building would be prohibited, although depending on the level of risk, residential buildings could be allowed under certain building limitations. However, it will prohibited to build public buildings such as schools, hospitals or military bases.

Government recognises that 1.5 million buildings must be torn down

Regarding the existing residential buildings in these risk areas, they will be examined and will become part of the urban transformation plans that the central government has already asked the authorities of the country’s 81 provinces to draw up.

These plans will consist of replacing old buildings that do not meet current earthquake regulations with new, more resistant buildings. In this regard, Turkey’s Minister of Urban Planning recognised today that there are 1.5 million buildings in the country that need to be replaced “urgently”.

The truth is that Turkey is a country traversed from east to west by numerous active seismic faults, so the prohibition of erecting buildings on these areas would have great repercussions. Turkish provinces most at risk of earthquakes are Aksaray, Bolu, Sakarya, Yalova, Bursa, Balıkesir, Manisa, İzmir, Aydın, Denizli, Muğla, Eskişehir, Kütahya, Kahramanmaraş, Hatay, Erzurum, Hakkari and Bingöl.