The severe earthquakes in Turkey and Syria caused destruction and tens of thousands of deaths, but according to experts the catastrophe was avoidable.
Munich – The earthquakes in Turkey and Syria have already claimed more than 21,000 lives and injured tens of thousands. The extent of the destruction is enormous, many people lost their homes and livelihoods in the disaster. As disaster researcher Prof. Dr. Martin Voss believes that this situation was avoidable. He attributes tragedies like this to “social failure” and is not alone.
Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria: disaster researchers classify the situation in the crisis area
After the severe earthquake, many of those affected will ask themselves the question of the causes and possible culprits for the situation. Researcher Prof. Dr. Martin Voss, head of the Berlin Disaster Research Center (KFS) at the FU Berlin, ordered over the Editorial Network Germany the situation in Turkey and Syria. The scientist also spoke about the role of the local authorities.
An earthquake catastrophe of this magnitude can only be prevented by long-term preparation, says Voss. “In order to preventively tackle an earthquake event of this magnitude, it takes decades of planning, design and implementation of the relevant guidelines,” says the social scientist. So he sees the mistakes in the past and explains them.
Capastrophe researchers on earthquake disaster: “People were exposed to risks”
According to Voss, when it comes to the distribution of political funds in particular, voters would reward investments, for example in affordable housing, more than investments in civil protection. “Political and official responsibility lies where control obligations have not been met, where building standards have been circumvented – or similar – where people have been exposed to risks without their own doing or knowledge,” says the researcher in an interview.
What he means in this specific case are the building regulations in Turkey, which have been significantly tightened since the earthquake tragedy in 1999. Earthquake-proof construction is mandatory, but not everyone adheres to the applicable rules. “In theory, one would have to say that hardly anyone should have been harmed. We can now build in such a way that such a magnitude is quite manageable,” concludes Voss.
Disaster researchers on earthquakes in Turkey and Syria: “We could have prevented it”
The question of responsibility could soon be raised louder. “The grief over the losses prompts the question of guilt to be raised,” says Voss, “particularly those directly affected want to have a reason for the catastrophe.” According to the researcher, people would have spoken of fate a hundred years ago, “today we have to realize that such a catastrophe is always a social failure. We could have prevented it.”
Also Dr.-Ing. Hamid Sadegh-Azar, Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Kaiserslautern, takes a similar view. Opposite of Time he states that a catastrophe like the one in Turkey is avoidable. “Today we can build earthquake-proof buildings and ensure that there are not so many victims,” says the expert in the statics and dynamics of supporting structures. For example, a building must have enough load-bearing walls inside to be earthquake-proof. Above all, the steel must be installed in the concrete and in the right places to ensure “that the concrete does not tear in the event of an earthquake”. In the event of an earthquake, a house should deform and not collapse.
Turkey: More than 8,000 buried people recovered after severe earthquake
In several affected cities, a large number of buildings collapsed in Monday’s tremors, experts estimate that tens of thousands lie under the rubble. In Turkey alone, more than 8,000 buried people were rescued by Friday. Even four days after the disaster, helpers are still looking for survivors under collapsed houses in the Turkish-Syrian border area. (ajr)
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