Turkey says Izmir residents should have homes assessed after earthquake

Turkish Environment and Urbanism Minister Murat Kurum said residents of Izmir should have their homes assessed and not live in high-risk buildings after more than 100 people died in an earthquake in the city last week.

“Apply to the Provincial Urbanism Directorates so we can get authorised companies to assess the risk to your buildings. Our citizens should live in dwellings that they believe to be more robust and safe,” Kurum told reporters on Wednesday.

The ministry plans to “implement in situ practices” for heavily damaged buildings close to the 17 buildings that collapsed in the Oct. 30 earthquake, which had a magnitude of 6.9 and has so far claimed the lives of at least 114 people, Kurum said.

The new buildings to replace the collapsed ones and dwellings that will be torn down to make way for safer construction will only be allowed to have six floors, Kurum said.

The Bayraklı district, where the collapsed buildings had stood, is an alluvial deposit site between two rivers, and is not suitable for high-rise buildings, said Izmir Chamber of Geophysics Engineers Chairman Sinancan Öziçer. The coastal part of the district is home to several skyscraper projects that were marketed as luxury dwellings.

Plots of land near Izmir’s new city hospital in the same district have been allocated for the building of 3,000 new residences and planning is underway, Kurum said. The Housing Directorate is set to begin construction within a month and will hand apartment units to their owners next year, he said.

One of the buildings that collapsed had been deemed at risk for severe damage in case of an earthquake, according to a report issued 10 years ago that daily Hürriyet published

Three out of the 17 buildings that collapsed in the earthquake had been promoted by a private construction company as earthquake-proof and were sold to survivors from an earthquake in 1999 in the northwestern İzmit/Gölcük area, which killed more than 17,000 people, according to a report by daily Evrensel.

“We thought this place was safe, because it was allocated to Gölcük earthquake victims,” homeowner Güler Elçi said. “We’ve lived here for 20 years. We wouldn’t have come if we knew.”

Izmir residents have already received more than 2.86 million liras ($340,000) in rent and moving assistance, while 6,600 people have settled in temporary tents put up after the tremor for those not willing or able to sleep in their homes, Kurum said.