Minister of Interior Affairs Mr. Süleyman Soylu said, "A successful disaster management, disaster awareness and high urgent response opportunity will of course lead to a positive point but there is an upper limit. Other measures will not be enough as long as buildings collapse. The real issue is to construct buildings that will not collapse and the key of this is urban transformation.”
Mr. Soylu as well as Deputy Minister of Interior Affairs Mr. İsmail Çıtaklı and İstanbul Governor Mr. Ali Yerlikaya attended the İstanbul Disaster Coordination and Assessment Meeting organized by the Provincial Disaster and Emergency Directorate of İstanbul in order to underline the importance of the first 6 hours of a disaster and measures that must be taken by public offices, NGOs, local administrators and people.
Noting that they have decided to found an earthquake information center in every neighborhood in order to prevent busy traffic at the local centers during disasters, Mr. Soylu stated that these information centers will use a central software system in order to respond to all kinds of demands of the people.
Minister Soylu stressed that volunteers are among the most important supporters to respond and undertake rescue activities during disasters adding that his administration is planning to organize training for volunteers and Gendarme will assign female personnel for establishment of communication channels during disasters and reduce the psychological impact of disasters.
Communication groups will be made up of governors, deputy governors, working group leaders, and support solution partners, regional directors of AFAD, branch managers and local administrators.
Minister Soylu stressed that Disaster Management and Decision Support System (AYDES) which is the software concerning all decisions for disaster preparedness, will be revised according to the changing needs.
Police Radio and TRT radio stations will undertake joint broadcasts in order to share information about disasters in a program titled, “Disaster Hour”, said Minister Soylu and stated that Police Radio Station will start to broadcast an hour long program about disasters in November.
"Strategies of disaster management”
Underlining the importance of increasing disaster reflex of the society, Minister Soylu said, “Due to increasing urbanization in our country and the world, disaster fragility is escalating. In 1990, there were 10 mega cities playing host to more than 10 million people in the world. In 2018, number of mega cities rose to 33 and İstanbul is among the most important mega cities of the world.”
Minister Soylu stated that the establishment of Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) led an increase in the disaster management capacity of Turkey and went on to say:
"Today, we are in a better place in terms of both logistics and response- rehabilitation opportunities during disasters. We divided disaster management into three headlines namely Disaster Risk Reduction Plan of Turkey (TARAP), Disaster Response Plan of Turkey (TAMP) and Rehabilitation Plan in the Aftermath of Disasters in Turkey (TASİP). We are organizing many coordination and preparation meetings within the framework of TAMP. Consequently, we are working in an effort to increase our disaster reflex and response capacity within a strategic framework and protect the society from the harms of disasters. But I would like to say that we are not inventing something new about disaster management. Assembly areas also exist in Japan. Many other countries in the world impose similar measures during disasters.
Key to success of countries with high earthquake risks like Turkey in disaster management is to construct safe buildings said Minister Soylu and added, “All studies, strategies and solutions concerning disasters led to the same point which is construction of safe buildings. If we fail to build safe buildings, disaster management strategies and response activities will not be enough to eliminate the harms of earthquakes.”
"Urban transformation is as important as measures against earthquakes. A successful disaster management, disaster awareness and high urgent response opportunity will of course lead a positive point but there is an upper limit. Other measures will not be enough as long as buildings collapse. The real issue is to construct buildings that will not collapse and the key of this is urban transformation,” stated Minister Soylu.
Reminding that Minister of Environment and Urbanization Mr. Murat Kurum was in İstanbul a couple of days ago in order to lay the foundation of new buildings in Esenler and Gaziosmanpaşa as a part of urban transformation, Minister Soylu said that they adopted a modern approach regarding before, during and aftermath of disasters.
"Please do not be optimistic while evaluating buildings”
Minister Soylu stated that 60 percent of the buildings which collapsed or were heavily damaged during the Elazığ earthquake and 61 percent of buildings which were heavily damaged during the Van earthquake in 2011 were built between 1990 and 2000.
Adding that 40 percent of buildings which collapsed or were heavily damaged during the 1999 earthquake in Avcılar were built in 1990s, Mr. Soylu said the following:
"In addition to the age of the building, engineering quality is important in terms of disaster risk. Please do not be open handed when evaluating buildings. We are conducting assessment meetings according to a possible big disaster scenario in İstanbul. We have defined criteria such as magnitude of the earthquake, affected neighborhoods and number of collapsed buildings and we take measures accordingly. We considered the worst case scenario or in other words we are preparing for the worst. This is why I say do not be free handed. But, as long as we complete urban transformation, build safer buildings, quality, nature and quantity of our measures will change, too. All data we have received shows that there will be a major earthquake in İstanbul but we do not know when. We do not have the technology to know when this earthquake will happen. Due to this reason, we have to take all measures we can in our buildings.”