11/12/99 Turkish Earthquake

Updated 11/21/99

The city of Duzce in northwestern Turkey was struck by an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 at 16:59 GMT 11/12/99. The Turkish government reports 705 dead and 5,000 injured with 80,000 homeless. The government, stung by criticism of a slow response to the August quake that killed over 15,000 people in the same general region was quick to send troops to help in the rescue efforts. 750 buildings were destroyed. Cold weather is especially hard on the thousands living in tents, with temperatures near freezing. The government has distributed 24,000 tents but could use more. Over 100,000 tents are still in use following the August quake. Bolu province where the quake was centered is just 45 miles east of the areas hit hardest by the August quake. It is a mountainous region with a smaller population than the coastal area affected by the August quake, which was much more destructive.

This quake and the August Izmit quake are on the North Anatolian Fault. A release of stress on one part of the fault leads to increased pressure on neighboring sections. The section that appears to have accumulated the most stress now is near Istanbul. It is impossible to tell, however, when that quake will hit. Most of Istanbul is built on solid ground and is not likely to see the kind of damage sustained in Ismit. On the other hand it is a large city a major quake there is sure to produce considerable destruction and loss of life. The Turkish population is now very aware of earthquake danger so the long process of strengthening buildings will probably now receive a high priority from the government.

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