Turkey home to 85 percent of world’s earthquake deaths in 2020 – report

In 2020, 160 of the 193 global earthquake-related deaths occured in Turkey, Sözcü newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing data from the The United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The world was shaken by 105 earthquakes of 6 magnitude or higher in 2020, nine of which registered above 7 magnitude, including Friday’s earthquake in İzmir, which the USGS registered in the latter category.

Two of the four earthquakes in which 10 or more people died this year occured in Turkey, with Friday’s earthquake in the western İzmir province being the deadliest tremor so far, killing at least 110 people.

The 6.9 magnitude earthquake in Turkey’s eastern Elazığ province on Jan. 24 was the second deadliest, claiming the lives of 41 people. 

There were deaths in only three of the earthquakes this year above the magnitude of 7 in Alaska, Jamaica, Russia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua new Guinea and Turkey.

A total of 10 people died in the 7.4 earthquake in Mexico and one person was killed in the 7 magnitude earthquake in New Guinea this year.

The Sözcü report was published on the fifth day of search and rescue efforts in Izmir, the country’s third largest city.

Turkish police on Monday detained nine people, including contractors, in connection to their suspected role in the negligence and oversight that led to the collapse of 20 buildings amid increasing calls by citizens and the opposition for earthquake preparedness accountability.

Turkey sits on two major fault lines and has a history of powerful earthquakes, including a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in 1999 in the western city of İzmit, where 17,000 people lost their lives.

Main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said on Tuesday that his secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) had submitted a total of 58 motions to the Turkish government calling for investigations into the country’s earthquakes over the last 17 years.

“All of them have been rejected,” Dünya newspaper cited Kılıçdaroğlu as saying. “Parliament needs to sit down and conduct some investigation.”

A total of 11,097 buildings were damaged in Friday’s earthquake, Environment and Urbanisation Minister Murat Kurum said on Tuesday.

Officials are expediting work on 124,000 buildings that have been heavily damaged or due for demolition, Diken news site cited Kurum as saying.