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The 1999 İzmitmarker earthquake was a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck northwestern Turkeymarker on August 17, 1999, at about 3:01am local time. The event lasted for 37 seconds, killing around 17 thousand people and leaving approximately half a million people homeless.

Damage and casualties

Casualty figures vary widely between sources, possibly due to confusion, mistakes or inadequate information in the wake of the disaster. The official death toll is placed at 17,127 killed and 43,959 injured, but many sources suggest the actual figure may have been closer to 40,000 dead and a similar number injured. The death toll increased in the following winter, due to poor conditions the survivors were living in within the shelters and on the street. Reports from September 1999 show that 120,000 poorly engineered houses were damaged beyond repair, 50,000 houses were heavily damaged, 2,000 other buildings collapsed and 4,000 other buildings were heavily damaged. 600,000 people were left homeless after the earthquake.

The earthquake was heavily felt in the industrialized and densely populated urban areas of the country, including oil refineries, several automotive plants, and the Turkish navy headquarters and arsenal in Gölcükmarker, increasing the severity of the loss of life and property. The earthquake caused a subsequent fire due to collapse of a tower in a Tüpraş oil refinery. The refinery had over 700,000 tons of oil stored. It took several days to get the fire under control.

Turkish soldiers were given 45 days leave to help rescue their relatives. Bodies were buried quickly in mass graves to stop any spread of disease.


The Izmit earthquake had a rupture length of 150 kilometers (93 miles) extending from the city of Düzcemarker all the way into the Sea of Marmaramarker along the Gulf of İzmitmarker. Offsets along the rupture were as large as 5.7 meters (18.7 ft) (Reilinger, et al., 2000).

The earthquake occurred along the western portion of the North Anatolian Fault Zone (NAFZ). The Anatolian Plate, which consists primarily of Turkey, is being pushed west about 2–2.5 cm (0.8–1.0 in) a year, as it is squeezed between the Eurasian Plate on the north, and both the African Plate and the Arabian Plate on the south. Major earthquakes in Turkey result from slips along the NAFZ or the Eastern Anatolian Fault.

The earthquake caused a tsunami in the Sea of Marmara that was about 3 meters high.

Destruction in Istanbulmarker mainly happened in the Avcılarmarker district, which is on the fault line extending across the Marmara Sea. Avcılar was built on ground mainly composed of sea soil at the bottom level, which makes this district vulnerable to any earthquake. A lot of International aid was sent out from various countries this aid included search teams, tents, helicopters, medical supplies and other general things.

International response

A massive international response was mounted to assist in digging for survivors and assisting the wounded and homeless. The rescue teams were dispatched within 24–48 hours of the disaster, and the assistance to the survivors was channeled through NGOs and the Red Crescent.

The following table shows the breakdown of rescue teams by country in the affected locations:

Location Search and Rescue Teams From:
Gölcük Hungary, Israel, France
Yalova Germany, Hungary, Israel, United Kingdom, France, Austria, Romania
Avcılar (Istanbul) Germany, Greece
İzmit (Kocaeli) Russia, Hungary, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, USA
Sakarya Bulgaria, Germany, Spain, Egypt
Düzce United Kingdom
Bayrampasa (Istanbul) Italy
Kartal (Istanbul) Azerbaijan
Search and Rescue Effort as of August 19, 1999. Source: USAID

In total, rescue teams from twelve countries assisted in the rescue effort.

The U.K announced an immediate grant of £50,000 to help the Turkish Red Crescentmarker, while the International Red Cross and Red Crescentmarker pledged £4.5 million to help victims. Blankets, medical supplies and food were flown from Stanstedmarker airport. Engineers from Thames Water went to help restore water supplies. India also assisted by providing 32,000 tents and 2 million rupees to help in the reconstruction process.

US President Bill Clinton and Pakistanimarker Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif later visited Istanbulmarker and İzmit to examine the level of destruction and meet with the survivors.

See also


  1. Bill Clinton visits İzmit,Turkey

External links

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