"A matter of time until 7.8 Richter earthquake in Istanbul," warns Greek professor

Istanbul Turkey earthquake

On the possibility of a major earthquake in Istanbul, the president of the Earthquake Planning and Protection Organisation (OASP), Efthymios Lekkas, told ERT radio that it is "a matter of time before it happens."

He said about Istanbul, "Yes, we are waiting for some big event. They are converging opinions of all the country's scientists. So it's only a matter of time. The longer it is delayed, the bigger the earthquake will be; that is, the more concentrated the energy will be."

"And, of course, the city has great vulnerability. It has a population of 20 million and now a third of the buildings are very old buildings. A third are new buildings like those of Antioch and Adana," the geology professor explained.

According to Mr. Lekkas, this earthquake "in total does not exceed 8 Richter. It's around 7.7 or 7.8 if the whole fault breaks. When 20 million are crammed into a relatively narrow space, there are bound to be casualties."

"Of course, the earthquake scenario also depends on if and when it will happen and how it will happen. Let's hope that the fault will break intermittently with smaller earthquakes, and we will, in any case, not have huge effects, as we had, for example, in Antioch," he added.

Within 2024, the anti-seismic control of all public buildings in Greece

According to the president of the OASP, absolute priority in Greece "are things such as the anti-seismic shielding of structures, the training, the information and the pre-seismic control that we are now doing in all the public buildings of the country, which is in progress and will be completed in a year".

Regarding the private buildings, Mr Lekkas emphasised that "they should pass an inspection. We expect that immediately after implementing the anti-seismic control in public buildings, some institutional, legislative regulation will be made so that this mandatory control will be extended to all the buildings in the country, the private ones, under the owners' responsibility".

"Look, it's not possible - when an apartment is rented or sold, we ask for the energy certificate and leave out the earthquake certificate. Normally, there must be a certificate of static adequacy of the buildings. Of course, it should be borne by the owners. This control will be done gradually.

"We propose to carry out this control, and of course, this will give another value to the buildings and regarding the buildings that should be reinforced or have suffered the wear and tear of time or anything else, they should be done based on the institutional framework, that is the regulation repairing and restoring the buildings to their anti-seismic adequacy.

"There are regulations from the OASP that we have recently issued," added Mr. Lekkas.

Finally, when asked about the lessons that Greece should learn from the 7.6 Richter earthquake in Japan, the Geology professor noted that "what we have to learn from the Japanese is collectiveness, teamwork, discipline, obedience, all of which not only we but also other peoples do not have.

"They are very organised and trained, and their mentality is completely different from ours. Therefore, they obey the instructions with stoicism, with courage, and whatever they do, they all do it together."

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