The earthquake region on the border between Turkey and Syria does not come to rest. A 5.2-magnitude tremor hit the central Anatolian province of Niğde in Turkey on Saturday, according to the Kandilli earthquake monitor. The epicenter was therefore in the district of Bor. Shortly before, according to the Turkish civil protection authority AFAD, there had been several earthquakes of magnitude 4. Initially, there was no information on casualties or damage.
More than 60 aftershocks were recorded from Syrian locations within 24 hours, the country's earthquake center announced on Saturday. The phase of the aftershocks could last another two years, it was said by AFAD. On February 6, two earthquakes of magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 shook southeast Turkey and northwest Syria. According to Turkish information, this was followed by more than 9,000 aftershocks.
It will be expensive for Istanbul
The number of confirmed fatalities in the two countries has now risen to more than 50,000. This number is a warning for Istanbul: Experts consider an earthquake there with a magnitude of up to 7.4 to be overdue. A rapid construction program is needed for more earthquake safety worth around 30 to 40 billion dollars, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu said on Saturday. "The amount is three times the annual budget of the city of Istanbul, but we have to be ready before it's too late." Almost 100 school buildings had recently been closed due to construction risks, which are now to be made earthquake-proof.
The Istanbul region is part of the North Anatolian Fault System, a large tectonic plate boundary known for destructive earthquakes with many casualties. According to official figures, 16 million people live in the megacity, according to unofficial estimates even 20 million. There are around 1.6 million old buildings that are not earthquake-proof, Nusret Suna from the Istanbul Chamber of Civil Engineers said recently.
More than 180 arrests
The authorities had failed to renovate old houses earthquake-proof, Suna had criticized. And even buildings built after 1999 are often not safe, despite the regulations that have been in force since then, because they are often disregarded out of greed for profit. A strong earthquake in Istanbul could have catastrophic consequences.
Turkey's Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag announced on Saturday that at least 184 people had been arrested on suspicion of negligence in relation to buildings that collapsed in the earthquake. A number of buildings in the affected region in the south-east of the country were not built to be earthquake-proof. Criticism was raised that compliance with applicable building standards was often not checked.
Countless buildings had not withstood the devastating earthquakes of early February. According to the Turkish government, more than 173,000 buildings were destroyed in 11 provinces of the country. Almost two million people lost their homes.
Meanwhile, Germany has issued hundreds of visas for earthquake victims from Turkey and Syria from mid-February to Friday. A spokeswoman for the Federal Foreign Office told the editorial network Germany (RND) that there were 429 Schengen visas for stays of up to 90 days and 99 visas for permanent residence in Germany as part of family reunification. The federal government had announced the procedure after the natural disaster.
It is aimed at those affected in Syria and Turkey. They should be given the opportunity to temporarily stay with relatives in Germany. The project has been criticized in part because, despite the promise of an unbureaucratic procedure, a valid passport and a biometric photo are required, for example.