Marmara quake sparks fears of a big one to hit Istanbul

A magnitude 3.8 that struck near Turkey’s biggest metropolis has again raised fears of when the next big earthquake will make its wrath felt in Istanbul.

Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority said.

The quake struck at a depth of 7 kilometers at 7.14 pm (GMT+3) local time with its epicenter right in the middle of Marmara Sea. 

It was felt in Istanbul neighboring cities around the Marmara Sea, according to local reports. No casualties or damage was reported.

The latest shake has sparked an old debate among researchers and academics that a major earthquake may hit Istanbul within a few years.

“In 10 years of time, there may occur an earthquake greater than magnitude 7 in the Marmara Region.  13 provinces around the Marmara Sea may be affected,” Sukru Ersoy, the Head of Yildiz Technical University Science Research Center, said at a conference on Saturday in Tekirdag, a city located about 160 kilometers west of İstanbul.

Turkey is one of the most seismic areas in the world, with Istanbul sitting near a major fault line, according to Murat Nurlu, the head of the AFAD’s earthquake department.

“Our scenario suggests that an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 on the Northern Anatolian Fault in the Marmara Sea could kill between 26,000 and 30,000 people,” he said.

Bogazici University’s Kandilli Observatory in Istanbul which monitors the seismic activities via a network of 240 stations, reports that there are some 10,000 earthquakes on average in Turkey each year.

In 2017, the corresponding figure was 34,000, but that was due to some 6,000 aftershocks following three earthquakes with a magnitude of more than 6, according to the observatory.

A total of 10,503 earthquakes with a magnitude of 4 or above have struck Turkey between 1900 and 2017.

On the 17th of August 1999, a magnitude of 7.4 struck near the city of Izmit in the Marmara region, killing 17,480 people.

The Marmara region includes Istanbul and several large cities and is the most industrial and heavily populated region of the country with some 23 million living there. Between 15 and 18 million live in Istanbul alone.

In the 1999 earthquake, more than 285,000 buildings were damaged and 600,000 people were left homeless after a 45-second quake, which led to a social and economic depression that took years to heal.

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