Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) is presently working on measures as to how to protect historical structures in Istanbul during an imminent earthquake, including plans to prevent a possible looting at the Grand Bazaar if such a disaster hits the metropolis.
“Some 150,000 people visit the Grand Bazaar, which has 11 entrances, each day. In case of an earthquake, how will people be evacuated, where will people be directed to? we are working on all these,” said Murat Nurlu, the head of AFAD’s Earthquake Department.
Nurlu recalled that there is a massive warehouse inside the Grand Bazaar where substantial amount of gold and foreign currencies are kept.
“Looting during earthquakes is a major problem. Thus, this warehouse must be protected during the quake and we are presently working on it,” Nurlu said, adding that this particular project will be completed next year.
He also said that AFAD has launched work to protect other landmark structures, including the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapı Palace and the Sultanahmet Mosque, in the event of an earthquake with a magnitude of 7 or stronger.
In the Marmara region alone, some 250 earthquake monitoring stations have been set up to observe quakes, according to Nurlu.
Nurlu, on the other hand, offers a gloomy prediction for the expected earthquake in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city which has a population of more than 15 million.
“Between 30,000 to 50,000 people will die, around 30,000 buildings will be damaged if a magnitude- 7.5 earthquake hits Istanbul.
The country is among the world’s most seismically active zones as it lies on several active fault lines.
Recently, the 6.6-magnitude earthquake hit the country’s third largest city, İzmir, on Oct. 30, killing 115 people.
More than 17,000 people were killed in August 1999 when a 7.4-magnitude quake struck the western city of İzmit, 90 kilometers southeast of Istanbul.