Building Codes Failed Turkey: AIR

The failure to adopt and enforce new building codes — in addition to already poor construction in the less developed regions – was the mail culprit of damage from October 23rd magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Turkey that resulted in hundreds of deaths and up to $170 million in insured damage.

According to a report by catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide, construction that required earthquake resistant measurers suffered significant damage during last weekend’s quake signaling that mitigation techniques were either poorly implemented or ignored.

“[Many] new buildings were damaged, and thus, in the weeks ahead, as damaged buildings are inspected, questions will again be raised regarding code enforcement,” AIR said in a statement.

It has been estimated that 3 percent (or over 2,000) of the buildings in Van province, the epicenter of the quake, were damaged beyond repair.

According to AIR, a new building design code was enforced in Turkey in 1998 and updated to “even stricter standards” following the 1999 Izmit and Duzce earthquakes. But despite the new codes, damage from Sunday’s quake “is similar to that from past events in Turkey, ”AIR says, including “inadequate reinforcement, lack of confinement at beam-column connections, low quality concrete and soft first stories of buildings.”

In addition, many ground floors of building in the region are used for commercial purposes that include “large shop windows and other openings” that reduce the lateral resistance of the structures and resulted in even greater damage.

Construction in the Van province is primarily unreinforced masonry with a smaller mix of reinforced concrete, adobe and rubble stone structures in the regions outskirts, AIR said citing the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute.


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