Canal will put Istanbul at greater risk from earthquakes, expert says

Plans to build a massive canal linking the Sea of Marara and the Black Sea will put Istanbul at greater risk from earthquakes, a leading expert said on Thursday.

“When there is an earthquake, there may be big landslides along the route of the Istanbul canal,” BirGün newspaper cited Dr Naci Görür, a professor of geology at Istanbul Technical University, as saying during an interview with FOX TV. 

Experts have repeatedly warned that Istanbul is likely to experience a strong earthquake in the near future, putting its over 15 million residents at significant risk.

Görür said building another waterway to rival the Bosphorus would turn Istanbul into an island that could be cut off in the event of an earthquake.

“Why don't you prepare Istanbul for an earthquake and invest in the safety of these people?” Görür said. “As a scientist, I rebel.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said the groundwork for the 45km canal will be laid by the end of the month.

Expected to cost more than $25 billion, the project has been widely criticised by environmental groups, who say it risks irreversibly damaging local ecosystems. 

In March, a survey by polling company Metropoll found a majority of citizens opposed the plans.