Earthquakes are a fact of life here.
On Saturday three
tremors centered in the Sea of Marmara -- ranging from
3.2 till 4.8 on the Richter scale -- were felt on a 200-
kilometer radius from Balikesir to Istanbul.
Seismic experts say that these rumblings are not
precedents of the major quake expected. Professor Ahmet
Mete Isikara predicts the upcoming big one could
approach at a speed of 80 kilometers per hour, directly
affecting a 90 kilometer radius, while creating 8 to 10
kilometer-deep rifts and fissures in the earth. This
would reduce an approximate 75% of Istanbul to ruins.
Since Turkey's '99 killer quakes which claimed some
18,000 lives, many elementary school-aged children
across the country continue to wake up in tears and
screams at night. Ongoing therapy treatments, visits to
psychiatrists, school prep programs, reassurance from
parents and relatives help alleviate sub-conscious
worries and release tension build-ups, but children are
still terrified by fears of tremors hitting their
earthquake-prone land -- and separating them from all
that they have known and loved.
Regular TV programs feature classes on calm, objective
ways in which people can react to traumatic situations.
These on-going features train families and individuals
to formulate safe and concise evacuation plans, helping
them prepare for any future eventualities. Schools
provide children the benefit of earthquake drills, first
aid classes, and age-respective hand-in-hand training
with firemen and rescue workers.
Within hours after the first of the 1999 quakes, faith-
based disaster response groups launched a relief effort
that efficiently funneled compassion and financial
support from the U.S. and many other countries. Church
World Service, Action by Churches Together (ACT), and
many denominational groups worked with local partners in
Turkey to offer shelter, food, water, and medical
They also offered spiritual care, with many local
partners continuing to do so.
Some youngsters plan to make 'helping others' their
career -- when they grow up.
"Earthquakes are a fact of life here," says 22-year-old
Gulden Yildirim. "Other countries suffer the effects of
floods, fires and diverse natural disasters -- we have
earthquakes, and I'm just thankful they don't happen
Reactions vary when the earthquake topic is brought up.
Most folks tend to stay in their hometown or province,
even if they are on a fault line.
"Fate will catch up with you wherever you are," Ali Tan
-- an English student --remarked, "and if your time is
not up, God will protect you through whatever comes your
way. While the thought of emigrating to a place of
refuge in order to escape earthquakes might seem a sound
investment to some, unplanned hardships of a different
kind, such as illness or financial difficulties, might
come your way -- and who is to say which is better? Our
future rests in safe hands."
Most of the country's youth reflect the same viewpoint
-- a traditional mixture of nationalistic pride, strong
family ties, and deep-seated beliefs. "After all, there
is a reason why one is born where they are. It is up to
each one of us to find out not only what that particular
reason is, but what we can do to make our families, our
nation and God proud of us in fulfilling it." concluded
Others prefer to endorse practical points -- and while
they continue praying for earthquakes not to happen,
they also prepare by having emergency bags packed with
essential necessities and valuable, or favorite,
irreplaceable possessions. Some, as the following young
lady, give way to wishful thinking: "My dream is to have
a week's advance notice. Then I would pack all our
belongings in a safe place, and take my sister, father,
mother, and fianc»e to Turkey's interior -- preferably
central Anatolia, which is the most tremor-proof region."
More links on Earthquakes
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