RESPONSE TO A DAMAGING EARTHQUAKE IN AN ENVIRONMENT OF POLITICAL TURMOIL (DINAR, TURKEY, OCTOBER 1, 1995)
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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. CMS-9632458. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation, nor do they express those of the Natural Hazards Center, the University of Colorado, or Baylor University.
Turkey certainly faced a full agenda in its foreign affairs, but events occurring on its domestic scene were even more challenging. The Kurdish Worker's Party (PKK) has conducted terrorist attacks for over a decade, with the goal of gaining part of Turkey's southeastern territory for an independent Kurdistan (2). The result has been over 6,000 deaths, thousands of refugees, and monumental economic and social costs (3). Turkey's rampant inflation, high unemployment, and migration of villagers to cities are largely consequences of financing the military response to the terrorism. All of these conditions have added to the growing tendency of extremist religious and ultra-nationalists to gain political representation at the municipal and parliamentary levels.
On September 20, 1995, over 350,000 workers in the public sector began a strike that shut down ports, rail, and many government services. This largest strike in Turkey's history began on the same day as the collapse of Prime Minister Tansu Ciller's coalition government (4). Nine days later, a strong earthquake occurred in Dinar, Turkey.
The objective of this research is to address the question: What is the response to a damaging earthquake when the government has collapsed and a country is facing extremely serious domestic challenges such as terrorism, rampant inflation, labor strike, high unemployment, and a rising Islamic movement? My response to the question is based on a Quick Response Research grant. This grant enabled me to travel to Dinar, Turkey, (4-11 October 1995) just days after the October 1 earthquake occurred.
Scholars, especially sociologists (Barton, 1969; Dynes, 1975; Mileti, Drabek, and Haas, 1975; and Drabek, 1986) and geographers (White, 1945; Kates, 1971; Burton, Kates, and White, 1978, 1993; Whittow, 1979; and Hewitt, 1983) have extensively studied human actions and reactions toward natural and human induced disasters. Yet there is more to learn. An international call for more research has been made by the United Nations during this International Decade for Natural Hazard Reduction (United Nations General Assembly, 1987). The United States has endorsed this action and the US. Committee for the Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction has addressed the importance of this focus (National Research Council, 1991). One of the Committee's recommendations was that "data on the . . . disasters be systematically collected and shared and that the resulting lessons learned be incorporated into policy and practice to reduce the impacts of future disaster" (National Research Council 1991, p. 4). Doing so at both the national and international scales would help us gain further knowledge available at a period of enhanced awareness during hazard occurrences. The continued research on foreign events could also be designed to address current issues that question earlier focus on natural hazards, for example, Hewitt's call for "a revised vision of how and why disaster occurs, giving full credit to the ongoing societal and man-environment relation that prefigure it" (1983, p. 27). Turkey, in many ways like California, is a seismic region that can help us understand the physical and social factors that govern the many damaging earthquakes that have occurred there during this century. Although earthquakes will continue in Turkey and elsewhere, undoubtedly their tragic impact can be reduced.
Given constraints above, the emotional state of the respondents, and the sensitive nature of accusations against provincial and local officials, my interviewing was limited to only those respondents who remained after the earthquake (many had already left before the main shock) and to those officials in the Civil Defense Crises Action Center. My interviewing always was overt and preceded by an introduction of my purpose and affiliation with Baylor University and the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center of the University of Colorado. I also carried my published reports on the Erzurum, Erzincan, Lice, and Gediz earthquakes (5). These publications opened many doors and helped ease tensions and overcome suspicions. I assured each respondent of his/her choice of confidentiality. As expected, several respondents chose anonymity. This research is based on field interviews of 42 Dinar citizens, 6 provincial and local officials, two professors from the University of Istanbul, and two professors from Izmir. It makes no claim of universal applicability, but does capture and assess human response to a damaging earthquake when a nation has a collapsed government and much of the national public sentiment strongly criticizes mitigation efforts as inefficient and earthquake resistant construction codes as non-enforced (Atac, 1995; Ustun, 1995).
Turkey is located in an active seismic zone on the Alpine-Himalayan fault line. The zone extends within Turkey for about 1,000 miles from Edremit's Kaz mountains in the Western Thrace to the Caldiran mountains near Van in the East. Earthquake experience is not new to Turkey since 92% of its population, 90% of its cities, 755 of its industrial complexes, and 40% of its dams are in active earthquake zones (Atac 1995, p. B1). Earthquakes frequently destroy settlements across the country. Fifty-five earthquakes in this century alone have killed over 70,000 people, injured another 122,000, and destroyed 420,000 buildings (Gulkan and Ergunay, 1992).
Growth from the town's origin on the rocky hills to the east has expanded west and south to the more level, alluvial plateau. Most of the city is now located on this sand, gravel, and clay alluvial base.
The town sits at 38.09 degrees north and 30.15 degrees east in a sparsely populated rural agricultural center in the "lake district" of southwestern Anatolia, about 200 miles east of Izmir and 200 miles south- southwest of Ankara.
Dinar has been continuously settled since about 1200 BC. Dinar (Meandros) was probably the capital of King Midas' kingdom in the 8th century BC. The city declined in importance during the Byzantium era, and remained a small settlement (Geyikler) under the Selcuk and Ottoman periods. It became a district of Afyon Province, similar to an American county seat, with the establishment of the Republic of Turkey after World War I.
Since the town of Dinar is located on cross roads between Interior Anatolia, the Aegean region, and the Mediterranean regions, and is situated on a vast alluvial plain with irrigation from the Buyuk Meanderes river, it is a thriving agriculture center. Production has shifted over the past two decades from subsistence agriculture to mostly commercial crops. Over 60% of the population is engaged in agricultural production. Crops are mainly wheat, sugar beets, vegetable and fruit production. Production of opium poppy, once an important traditional cash crop, has been severely reduced from the government action of 1974.
Dinar (population 35,000 in 1990) is now one of ten district centers (ilce) located within the province (Il) of Afyonkarahisar (Afyon), one of Turkey's 67 first order administrative divisions. The province's population of 730,223 is distributed over 14,230 km in 499 villages and towns. The Dinar district has 35 villages under its jurisdiction, along with its sub district towns of Dombayova and Haydarli. Dinar's total administrative jurisdiction covers 65 towns and villages with a total population of 91,000 (1990 census). Village populations in the region range from as few as 73 people to as many as 7,474. Obviously, this is not a densely populated province (Figure 3).
In the 23 neighborhoods of Dinar, 1,228 houses were totally destroyed or heavily damaged, 990 houses were moderately damaged, and 1,558 received minor damages (7). Nine hundred and forty-three houses were totally destroyed in 53 outlying villages under Dinar's jurisdiction (8). Reports attributed to the national government range from 4,000 destroyed and 1,000 partially damaged in Dinar to approximately 3,000 or 30% of all buildings in Dinar (Ustun, 1995; Bogazici University, 1995).
Buildings in Dinar are one to five stories. The first levels of multistory buildings on the main streets of Dinar are usually occupied by commercial retail stores. Almost all the five-story apartment buildings were destroyed or heavily damaged. These buildings, as with the buildings on the main streets, were built with reinforced concrete. Walls are either solid or hollow brick. Most buildings suffered heavy damage from severe failure in column and beam-column joints of reinforced concrete. Severe cracks occurred in load bearing walls of masonry buildings. The Post Office (PTT) suffered major damage and was condemned during my visit. It appeared to be fairly new.
It appears that the Turkish public has reached a new level of awareness. People seem to now demand that earthquake risk maps be updated, that regulations concerning construction practices to minimize risk be enforced, that quality control be enforced during new construction, and that older buildings and houses clearly at risk be properly retrofitted. This awareness and public opinion are an important step toward more significant progress. But is it realistic to expect major changes in a rapidly developing economy with limited resources and the many domestic challenges discussed above? In some areas, yes.
The purpose of this research is to assess the response to a disaster when a state is in an environment of domestic turmoil. The emergency response of search and rescue appeared to compare favorably with previous earthquake disasters. Politicians, including the President and Prime Minister were quickly on the scene. President Demirel offered condolences and promised to rebuild "the nicest city in Turkey." Unlike previous disasters the government has taken longer to announce definite plans for reconstruction. Parliament representatives attributed local dissatisfactions and damaged government structures to their opponents. The Welfare party (Refah) was particularly critical toward the Ciller government. Less than three months later, the Ciller government was voted out of office and the Welfare party won more seats in parliament than any of the other parties. It is not possible based on this research to determine what impact, if any, that this earthquake disaster had on the subsequent political events. Neither is it possible to state that the political environment caused slower or poorer response. This tentative and cursory research raises many questions and opens the door for a far more extensive work.
Dinar was a warning of what to expect in cities such as Istanbul and Izmir. Enforcing compliance of construction codes for all new public buildings and retrofitting older public buildings is essential. Such action would help build public confidence in the government. This compliance of the law would be important for saving lives and would likely encourage contractors to extend proper construction practices into the private sector. Although Dinar was a warning of what to expect on a much larger scale in Izmir and Istanbul and other large Turkish cities, it also could be a catalyst for critical corrective actions.
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Figure 1. Physical map of Western Turkey with rectangle indicating location of Dinar, Turkey. Source: A. Barka in Bogazici University Reconnaissance Report No. 1, 1995.
Figure 2. Relief map of Dinar and vicinity with area of extensive damage. Source: Bogazici University Reconnaissance Report No. 1, 1995.
Figure 3. Districts, including Dinar, in Afyon Province. Source: Census of Turkey, 1990
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