Turkey: Earthquake, People & Future

Kubilay Kaptan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Department of Architecture at Istanbul Aydin University where he has been a faculty member since 2009. He also act as a coordinator of Disaster Education, Application and Research Center at Istanbul Aydin University.

Kubilay Kaptan completed his Ph.D. at Bogazici University and his undergraduate studies at Istanbul Technical University. He took some of my courses in Princeton and West Virginia Universities. His research interests lie in the area of Earthquake engineering, ranging from theory to design to implementation, with a focus on earthquake resistant cultural heritages, dynamic group analysis, finite elements. In recent years he has focused on better techniques for retrofitting buildings. He also served as a faculty member in Yeditepe University and Bogazici University.

Kubilay Kaptan has served on over 65 conferences and workshop program committees, worked on more than 55 international and national articles. Currently he serves as a vice president for the Turkish Higher Education Research Foundation, member of Chamber of Turkish Engineers and Architects and the ACM Education Council. He is the recipient of an two “Teacher of the Year” Awards voted on by my”department’s undergraduates both in Istanbul Aydin University and Yeditepe University. In his spare time, he loves to deal with physics and quantum mechanics and prehistory.

His visit to Philadelphia had two main purposes. First one was to visit sister and two baby nephews who are living in Philadelphia and the second purpose was to give seminars on ‘Disasters in Turkey in different US universities such as Lehigh University.

We asked Kubilay Kaptan to share some experience and knowledge about earthquake in Turkey: was he in the area affected by the earthquake? How far from the epicenter did the shakes felt?

– First, I would like state my thanks to Philadelphia News for giving this chance to share my experience and knowledge about the sorrow that we are facing in Turkey. – Kubilay said. – Two of our staff, one civil engineer and an architect from Istanbul Aydin University Disaster Education, Application and Research Center were in the earthquake affected area. Van earthquake with a 7.1 magnitude occurred at a shallow depth of 20 km, causing heavy shaking across much of eastern Turkey and was felt across neighboring parts of the South Caucasus and Levant. 96% of Turkey’s land is on an earthquake area and the 96% of the population is living in these earthquake prone areas. These percentages are enough to show what Turkey is facing and will face in the future.”

– Is there an official data on earthquake victims and injured people?

– According to Disasters and Emergency Situations Directorate of Turkey (AFAD) on October 30 casualties are 601, and injured are 4152. After 20 days from this declaration three other individual earthquakes and many aftershocks have happened in the same area which caused additional dead of 39 people and injured of 46 people. From the 11,232 damaged buildings that have been examined in the region; 6,017 have been found to be uninhabitable affecting around 8,321 households , with an average household population of around 7.6 in the province, this could mean that at least around 60,000 people left homeless. The other 5,215 have been damaged but are habitable. Another shocking fact is that almost half of the city’s population, approximately 340,000 people are leaving the city to go safe places.

– We’ve seen a reporting on TV about miracle rescues of people from under ruined buildings… According to your knowledge, how many people were rescued?

– 231 people were rescued during 10 days.

– In your opinion, why didn’t the Government of Turkey accept offered help (tents, foods, medicine, warm clothes, rescue teams) from other countries at once? People were left without shelter, food and warm clothes…

– Unfortunately this happened because of the information gap in the disaster management process. Official authorities, looking at the number of the collapsed buildings, have thought that Capacity of the Red Crescent and other national organizations are enough to deal with this disaster. They have not foreseen that many people will demand shelters although their houses had minor damages. Another fact is that people who have experience from the past earthquakes, like Marmara Earthquake happened in 1999 are not in charge and they were resigned.”

– Unfortunately, that was not the first earthquake in your region. Were there any warnings or apprehension of the coming disaster?

– As I stated before big part of Turkey is situated in an earthquake zone. Van is on the crossing of these major two faults. I proposed a paper in 2005 Kocaeli Earthquake Conference and I clearly stated that an earthquake may happen in Van. I am not a fortuneteller but if you examine the fault lines and the past earthquakes in the region, one may easily see that an earthquake will happen in the area.

– As an engineer, could you characterize the situation with construction complexes in seismic areas in Turkey?

– Soft storey collapse regularly occurs in Turkish apartment buildings with the bottom storey having a higher storey height than the stories above it, providing extra height for shops or for car parking. Concrete frame buildings with concrete flat slabs of three to seven stories collapsed in some cases around the urban centers of Ercis and Van. Pancake collapse can occur where the columns of each level fail. Pancake collapses of the lower part and of the entire building and so-called outspread multi layer collapses can be seen in photos provided. As observed after the 1999 Izmit earthquake, many of the concrete floors did not remain intact within the collapse structures. Large voids in upper stories when only partly collapsed, but mostly very dense collapse structures lead to many casualties. This is the most fatal type of collapse with approximately 10x more injuries occurring in a total collapse, than in other forms of buildings beyond repair.

In addition, weak column-beam connections and weak building materials such as under strength concrete have had a huge impact on the building damage ratios.

– In your opinion, would this recent earthquake and Government’s delay in taking earthquake relief actions damage the reputation of Turkish Government?

– With delays, organization problems, lack of resources after a disaster, any government would have been criticized. Turkish Government was accused mainly because of the delays and for the coordination problems.

– Were there established any kind of humanitarian relief foundations for people of Turkey who suffered from the earthquake? If so, could you please provide any information, where people could make their donations?

– Including us, İstanbul Aydin university, other universities, NGOs, public and private organizations have organized relief projects. It will be better to send any help through Turkish Red Crescent Society. Following link may be used for this process: https://secure.kizilay.org.tr/sayfaDetay.aspx?sid=6ef5a053-429f-4d69-8aef-4306715bbe53

– Thank you for your interview. We wish you safe life in Turkey.

– I would like to state my sincere thanks to you and all US citizens for all the help that they provided for us.

For any questions you can contact to Asst. Proff. Kubilay Kaptan by the e-mail kubilaykaptan@aydin.edu.tr

kaptankubilay@gmail.com

www.iauafam.com

www.kubilaykaptan.com

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