TURKEY: Magnitude-6.5 Aegean quake rocks country

30 May 2014 —
An earthquake of 6.5 magnitude which struck off the coast of northern Greece on Saturday also rocked people in Turkey, where about 270 people were hospitalised, most with minor injuries, the government disaster and emergency department (AFAD) has announced. No deaths were reported.

Saturday's earthquake was followed by several aftershocks. The safety of schools and hospitals in Turkey is being questioned in the wake of the aftershocks, reported the Hurriyet Daily News.

Observers say that Turkey, especially Istanbul which is the country's economic centre, is ill-prepared for a major earthquake such as one exceeding 7 in magnitude.

Hurriyet cited a report prepared by the geology branch of the Turkish Union of Engineers' and Architects' Chambers (TMMOB) in 2010 that said that 98% of Turkey's population faced risk from earthquakes.

"As our country has not yet developed a successful strategy, quakes with magnitudes as small as five, which do not cause damage in developed countries, can cause serious risks," it said.

The report added that buildings housing a higher number of people, such as hospitals, schools and dormitories, generally do not meet the adequate safety standards and are at particular risk in the event of an earthquake. In addition, 40% of housing in Turkey is unlicensed and in need of improvement in water, gas and electricity infrastructure, according to TMMOB.

The latest quakes did not cause major damage, but were still alarming because Turkey has been struck by several devastating earthquakes in the last two decades.

Turkey has operated the mandatory Turkish Catastrophe Insurance Pool (TCIP) following massive earthquakes in 1999. The main aims of the pool are to provide earthquake insurance coverage at affordable but actuarially sound rates for all registered urban dwellings, limit the government's financial exposure to natural disasters, build long-term catastrophe reserves to cover future earthquake losses, and encourage risk reduction and mitigation practices in residential construction. The compulsory earthquake Insurance is required for carrying out of certain transactions such as subscription to public utilities and sale and purchase of dwellings.

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TURKEY: Magnitude-6.5 Aegean quake rocks country
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