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Poor housing bears brunt of Turkish quake damage

INADEQUATE ENFORCEMENT of building regulations is being blamed for the scale of devastation caused by the earthquake that hit Adana and Jahan in south east Turkey on Sunday leaving 126 dead.

Damage was worst in the older and poorer areas of the cities where many buildings pre-date the guidelines introduced in 1975 and revised in 1996. But ad hoc extensions to buildings are common, and enforcement of structural rules rare. It is these structures that appear to have suffered most.

The earthquake measured 6.3 on the Richter Scale and is described as moderate - the earthquake that shook Los Angeles in 1994 was 15 times greater in amplitude. No serious disruption was caused to power, water or other utilities.

Epicentre of the quake was 15km from Adana. Its shallow depth and effect on the alluvial plane, according to independent earthquake design consultant Edmund Booth, should have been 'a recipe for disaster'.

However, Samir Salman, of supervising engineer Dar Al-Handasah Shair & Partners, now constructing a 258km motorway in the region, said: 'Compared to the size of the city (1.5M people) and the number of high rise buildings, there is little damage.'

The motorway, which runs from Tarsus to Gaziantep through to Adana, is reported to be undamaged. A full survey is now being carried out.

Building repairs will be funded by the Turkish government. At present there is no schedule or estimate of cost. According to Dr Sarada Sarma of Imperial College London, the rate and extent of repairs will depend on the strength of Turkey's economy. 'In some countries, the damage lasts for years,' he said.

Andrew Mylius

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