Turkish earthquake puts building practices in the spotlight says UNISDR

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

GENEVA, 24 October 2011 – The tragic loss of life in yesterday’s earthquake in the Ercis region of Turkey and the reported collapse of almost 1,000 buildings underlines the importance of providing the right incentives and information to builders and owners in the world’s most dangerous earthquake zones, says UNISDR, the UN office for disaster reduction.

UNISDR CHIEF, Margareta Wahlström, said today: “Turkey’s seismic code provides the basis for safer structures and better urban planning. The country has made progress in Istanbul and elsewhere in retrofitting and rebuilding public buildings, schools and hospitals to the required standard. There has been vigorous prosecution of corrupt municipal officials for allowing unlicensed construction.

“However, recent studies show that much needs to be done not just to enforce building codes but to ensure that owners have both the incentives and information to build well. Building well is not always more expensive but it is important to ensure the quality of the building materials.

“Despite any rebuilding or retrofitting and enforcement of standards for new construction, it is clear that in most earthquake zones there are large existing stocks of poor quality buildings so preparedness measures are essential. The Turkish government response has been fast and efficient with the dispatch of over 1,500 search, rescue and health personnel to the affected areas with impressive logistical support.”

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