"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.

Source: NYTimes, 02/25/2010