The precise time and place of an earthquake cannot be predicted – that is what you will hear from any seismologist. But they can state with confidence in which areas there is a very high probability of a big earthquake, within a few decades.
There has been an average of one big earthquake every century in Istanbul for the past 1,500 years. The last one was in 1894. By any reckoning, the city is due for another.
“In the Istanbul metropolitan area there are around one million buildings,” said Mustafa Erdik, the director of the main seismic observatory in Kandilli.
The problem is, officials cannot be sure which 5,000 buildings will collapse – there are tens of thousands which might. Strengthening them to modern safety standards is just too big a job to undertake.
There are areas of Istanbul judged to be more vulnerable than others: Zeytinburnu, for example, a fast-growing suburb to the west of the city, built on soft soil near the Marmara Sea.
Lets hope that the big earthquake hits Istanbul later, rather than sooner.