Turkish minister says fearful of Istanbul earthquake happening on his watch

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said he is fearful of an earthquake striking Istanbul during his time serving the ruling of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), Diken news site reported.

Government officials are working to take precautionary measures and continually conducting mental drilling exercises for a large Istanbul earthquake, the Turkish minister said during a meeting organised by the Union of Municipalities of Turkey in Ankara.  

“My fear is this: that it [an earthquake] will happen during our time in office and I seek refuge in God from being the dishonoured man, who goes on record for carrying the responsibility for it,” Soylu said.

Experts have for years warned about a major earthquake in Turkey's most populous city Istanbul, which sits one of the most active seismic zones in the world.

Istanbul, home to some 16 million people, would suffer large losses of life and property due to poorly constructed buildings and lack of disaster management plans when the expected big quake does strike, experts say.

Officials are working to create an earthquake communication line and increasing capacity in case of a large quake, the minister said.

“We will also begin efforts for education through television programmes and reporters,” Soylu added.

Istanbul was last struck by a magnitude 5.8 tremor in September, prompting government agencies to coordinate regular meetings to prepare for the event of a larger magnitude quake.