The Washington PostThe Washington Post

Was the earthquake’s high death toll preventable? Geologists say yes

By Carolyn Y. Johnson

09 Feb 2023 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

Turkey has strict building codes to protect its population from earthquakes. But with a death toll above 21,000 and rising, it's clear those codes were often ignored, The Post reports.

When Ezgi Karasözen received an email alert about a massive earthquake in southeastern Turkey, she burst into tears. Karasözen is an earthquake geologist who lives in Colorado, but she grew up in the Turkish capital of Ankara, and she's studied the earthquakes in her home country in detail. She instantly knew that a 7.8-magnitude quake meant devastation.

Most seismologists have a shortlist of places in the world that they worry about - hotspots where any news of a major temblor is a pit-in-the-stomach moment. These concerns are especially true in so-called "seismic gaps," segments of known fault zones that haven't ruptured in an unusually long time - long enough that people may have let their guard down.

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