Substandard construction increased destruction in Turkey earthquakes, expert says
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Turkish earthquake expert who examined buildings near the epicenter of the earthquakes near Van, Turkey, says improper design and construction added greatly to damage in the region.
"We encountered many newer buildings designed improperly," said Purdue University civil engineering professor Ayhan Irfanoglu (pronounced EYE-hun EAR-fun-oh-loo). "These newer buildings should have been subject to Turkey's stringent seismic design code, but, unfortunately, represented a significant portion of the buildings destroyed."
For more than a decade Irfanoglu has studied the vulnerability of buildings to earthquakes in his native Turkey. He is part of an Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) rapid-response team sent to decipher damage after the recent Van earthquake. He also served on reconnaissance teams after the 1999 Marmara and the 2003 Bingol earthquakes.
Irfanoglu took "before" photos of the Bayram hotel and a local prep school last week on the hunch that it would be good to have records of these local landmarks in case another temblor struck. Both are reported collapsed during the magnitude 5.7 quake this week. While the prep school was reportedly not occupied during the recent quake, the hotel collapse claimed several lives.
Irfanoglu advised locals to not be too quick to reoccupy damaged buildings without first retrofitting them to protect against quakes.
"It is easier and cheaper to build correctly during original construction, but after-construction remedies are also available," Irfanoglu said. "It is definitely not worth risking lives by not retrofitting buildings in a timely fashion."
Irfanoglu's most recent research trip was sponsored by the Purdue University-led George E. Brown Network Jr. for Earthquake Engineering Simulation. He and is EERI colleagues will publish the results of their field research later this month.
Writer: Jim Schenke, 765-237-7296, email@example.com
Source: Ayhan Irfanoglu, firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to Journalists: Ayhan Irfanoglu is available in person and via phone, Skype and possibly satellite to provide insight about the disaster area. For more information, please contact Jim Schenke, Purdue News Service, at 765-237-7296, email@example.com