Türkiye and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) held a nationwide drill on Saturday, marking the 23rd anniversary of the 1999 Düzce earthquake that lasted for 30 seconds and killed 710 people.
We cannot prevent an earthquake but can minimize loss of life and property, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged on Saturday, minutes before the country conducted the nationwide drill to promote emergency preparedness and response.
The exercise, organized by the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), was held in Türkiye’s 81 provinces and Turkish Cyprus at 6:57 p.m. (3:57 p.m. GMT) local time to mark the 23rd anniversary of the deadly earthquake in the Turkish city of Düzce.
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Citizens received an audible alert on their phones, along with an SMS notification in Turkish and English that read: “This is an AFAD earthquake drill announcement,” and proceeded to tell people to drop, cover and hold – the course of action to take during an earthquake. Announcements were also made in mosques, municipalities and on TV and radio stations.
“We expect you to participate in the exercise voluntarily and test your reflexes and the reflexes of your environment against a possible earthquake. I believe that with the few minutes you will devote to this exercise, we will gain an experience that will add a lifetime to our lives together,” Erdoğan said in a video message earlier.
Noting that scientists are in agreement that the possibility of major earthquakes is increasing in Türkiye, he said, “Yes, it is not possible to prevent an earthquake, but it is in our hands to take measures to prevent loss of life and property.”
He said Türkiye learned from bitter experiences of the past and now has an integrated disaster management strategy, which has been created with the coordination of AFAD.
The plan consists of three stages, including pre-disaster preparedness and risk reduction, response during the disaster and recovery after the disaster.
“Within the scope of pre-disaster preparedness and risk reduction studies, we make our cities resistant to disasters with mass housing and urban transformation projects, reach our citizens in a short time with our effective management in the event of a disaster, and carry out search and rescue efforts quickly,” he said. “With our post-disaster recovery strategy, we implement projects that will replace the destroyed with much better ones.”
“For this reason, we declared 2020 the year of preparedness for disasters, 2021 the year of disaster education, and this year the year of disaster exercises,” he added.
The president said that in 2021 nearly 57 million citizens were reached with various training materials, while in 2022 a total of 94,207 exercises were held to test Türkiye’s readiness.
On Nov. 12, 1999, Düzce was rocked by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that lasted 30 seconds, killing 710 people and injuring 2,679.
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Düzce earthquake came after the Aug. 17, 1999 earthquake that hit Türkiye’s northwestern city of Izmit, and killed 18,373 people and injured 23,781 with its 7.6 magnitude tremor, according to official figures from AFAD.
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