Predicted casualties in a 7.5 magnitude night-time earthquake, from Mustafa Erdik's Earthquake Vulnerability of Buildings and a Mitigation Strategy
Istanbul, where our blog was started, is a city uniquely vulnerable to earthquakes. Earthquakes, like many other disasters, kill along class lines. People in poorly built houses die while people in well built houses live. Particularly troubling, I think, is that almost all the research about how to keep safe in an earthquake has been done for people living in the kinds of places - California, Japan - where they can reasonably expect that their houses won't collapse. For a long time now people in Turkey have been told about the "triangle of life," a survival strategy that involves sheltering next to large, incompressible objects like beds and was developed by one of the first responders to the Kocaeli quake. When this recommendation started making the rounds a number of prominent earthquake experts reacted angrily, warning people that it was a completely unreliable and untested strategy. The problem, though, as some experts acknowledged, was that no one really has any better advice for what to do when you live in an unreliable building, where even the standard recommendation - always stay indoors - might not hold true.