Turkey has announced that the government is actively preparing to deal with a possible strong earthquake in Istanbul, the country’s largest city, economic and touristic hub.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu made the remark in a televised interview late yesterday days after Friday’s 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Turkey’s southeastern provinces.
“We expect a [magnitude] 7.5 earthquake in Turkey’s heart, Istanbul. The government is seriously working on the possible scenario of the earthquake,” he told broadcaster CNN Turk.
He said discussions were being held about how to protect national treasures in the Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia and provide safe places for citizens.
Twenty years ago, the city of Izmit experience an earthquake that killed more than 17,000 people. Since then, fears remain high with constant warnings from scientists that Istanbul, Turkey’s most populated city and economic hub, will be at the epicentre of the next “big one”.
Turkey is among the world’s most seismically active countries as it is situated on a number of active fault lines. Every day, there are approximately 100 minor earthquakes and aftershocks recorded by Turkey’s state-run disaster management authority. In the last big earthquake in October 2011, more than 600 people died in the eastern province of Van after a 7.2 magnitude quake.
Friday’s massive quake killed 41 people in Elazig and four in Malatya and injured more than 1,600, according to Turkish authorities.
Among those rescued was a 35-year-old woman and her infant daughter in the Mustafa Pasa district of Elazig. Rescuers who heard their screams took several hours to reach them in freezing temperatures, state media reported.
“Can you hear me? We are coming. We are going to save you,” footage showed a rescuer telling the mother.
“Please get me out, I cannot stand it anymore. Get my daughter, I am nothing without my child,” she could be heard saying before being safely lifted out.