Andrew Revkin is writing on more than just climate change now, it seems, with a long and interesting article here on what a disaster a major earthquake in Istanbul will be.
He notes, for example:
Some of Turkey’s biggest builders have readily admitted to using shoddy materials and bad practices in the urban construction boom. In an interview last year with the Turkish publication Referans, Ali Agaoglu, a Turkish developer ranked 468th last year on the Forbes list of billionaires, described how in the 1970s, salty sea sand and scrap iron were routinely used in buildings made of reinforced concrete.
“At that time, this was the best material,” he said, according to a translation of the interview. “Not just us, but all companies were doing the same thing. If an earthquake occurs in Istanbul, not even the army will be able to get in.”
One prediction about a potent quake concluded that 30,000 natural gas lines were likely to rupture. “If just 10 percent catch fire, that’s 3,000 fires,” he said, adding that the city’s fire stations are able to handle at most 30 to 40 fires in one day.
As for the status of engineers there:
Dr. Bilham at the University of Colorado has estimated that an engineer is involved in just 3 percent of the construction under way around the world.
Peter Yanev, who has advised the World Bank and the insurance industry on earthquake engineering and is the author of “Peace of Mind in Earthquake Country,” noted that in Turkey and other developing countries, even when someone with an engineering degree was involved, that was no guarantee of safe construction because there was little specialized training or licensing.
I also didn't realise that Tehran was in such danger too:
In Tehran, Iran’s capital, Dr. Bilham has calculated that one million people could die in a predicted quake similar in intensity to the one in Haiti, which the Haitian government estimates killed 230,000. (Some Iranian geologists have pressed their government for decades to move the capital because of the nest of surrounding geologic faults.)Pity God can't arrange for one just big and localised enough to take out some uranium centrifuges.