"Disaster Awaits Cities in Earthquake Zones"

"ISTANBUL — As he surveys the streets of this sprawling mega-city, Mustafa Erdik, the director of an earthquake engineering institute here, says he sometimes feels like a doctor scanning a crowded hospital ward.

It is not so much the city’s modern core, where two sleek Trump Towers and a huge airport terminal were built to withstand a major earthquake that is considered all but inevitable in the next few decades. Nor does Dr. Erdik agonize over Istanbul’s ancient monuments, whose yards-thick walls have largely withstood more than a dozen potent seismic blows over the past two millenniums.

His biggest worry is that tens of thousands of buildings throughout the city, erected in a haphazard, uninspected rush as the population soared past 10 million from the 1 million it was just 50 years ago, are what some seismologists call 'rubble in waiting.'"

Andrew C. Revkin reports for the New York Times February 24, 2010.

Thursday, February 25, 2010