Opinion: Turkey and Syria’s earthquake – what prevention can do
Like many civilians and Americans around the world, people do not trust politicians and their government. It’s been known that large percentages believe their government to be unresponsive and do not have the best interests of the people. Though, if people were shown what services governments could provide during a horrific earthquake like Turkey and Syria’s, maybe people wouldn’t hate them nearly as much.
The casualties from Turkey and Syria’s earthquake on Feb. 6 have climbed to 50,000, with many being injured, and more being discovered within the rubble. The big earthquake happened along the East Anatolian fault, which stretches across Southeast Turkey.
Although this was the biggest earthquake ever known to hit Turkey and Syria, it has not been the first. There have been multiple earthquakes throughout the years, even one that happened as recently as January 2020. After the 2020 quake, geological engineer Prof Naci Gorur of Istanbul Technical University realized the risk and predicted another one coming in the future.
“I warned the local governments, governors and the central government. I said: ‘Please take action to make your cities ready for an earthquake.’ As we cannot stop them, we have to diminish the damage created by them,” Gorur said in a BBC News interview.
Since the devastating earthquake, Turkey’s president, Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish government have received backlash for the slow response of the delayed search and rescue. From an NPR article, Erodogan said, “the first day we had some discomforts,” before insisting to survivors near the quake’s epicenter, “second day, and then today, the situation got under control.”
“Events like this are, of course, absolutely devastating, but they remind us of the importance of scientific research and putting that research into practice through building codes and retrofitting infrastructure, enforcing policy and things like sharing knowledge to establish best practices,” Lindsay Davis, the earthquake disaster assistance team manager at the US Geological Survey, told NPR in an interview.
Senior lecturer at Kadir Has University, Soli Ozel, has made it known of the Turkish government’s shortcomings for this disaster. Ozel told the Wider Angle podcast that national funds meant for natural disasters like this one were instead spent on highway construction projects, which were managed by associates of Erdogan and his coalition government.
Much of the work examining what went wrong in the disaster will be put on the shoulders of the government. The country’s building construction needed to be fitted to combat future disasters. Concluding, that Turkey and Syria’s death tolls could have been prevented with a non-lackadaisical government and education. This natural disaster shows clearly the prevention that can be done by well-equipped government officials and fast action.